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Current Ethical Issues in Neuroimaging. Adina Roskies Dartmouth College. Presentation to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, February 28, 2011. Neuroimaging. Primarily diagnostic, descriptive/predictive, non-interventional

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current ethical issues in neuroimaging
Current Ethical Issues in Neuroimaging
  • Adina Roskies
  • Dartmouth College

Presentation to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, February 28, 2011

  • Primarily diagnostic, descriptive/predictive, non-interventional
  • Can be used in conjunction with interventional techniques like TMS, DBS which raise other ethical issues
  • “We are our brains” more immediate than “We are our genes”
parallels with hgp elsi
Parallels with HGP ELSI
  • Many similar informational risks
  • Some differences:
    • potential to pose a different kind of privacy threat
    • consent issues
      • usually the information does not affect people other than subject
      • neurological cases often involve competence
privacy potential forensic uses of neuroimaging
Privacy/potential forensic uses of neuroimaging
  • Mental Content
    • MVPA allows prediction of visual content on basis of brain data (Mitchell et al, 2008, Shinkareva et al. 2008, Just et al. 2010)
  • Lie/truth detection
      • knowledge/familiarity
        • measures of arousal
        • measures of subjective but not objective familiarity (Rissman, Greely & Wagner, 2010)
      • pain
mental privacy lie detection
Mental Privacy, Lie detection
  • Techniques for assessing these better than chance, but:
    • experimental design problems
    • experimental confounds
    • unknown base rates (prevalence in the relevant population)
    • are apt to be misleading
  • All these provide only probabilistic information
  • Prediction of brain disease
  • Potential forensic uses of predictive neuroimaging
      • Aggression/Antisocial behavior
      • Recidivism
      • Mental illness
    • Probabilistic information, no definitive predictions can currently be made
    • In many cases, we don’t know baserates
the ethics of consciousness
The ethics of consciousness
  • Recent developments in understanding/diagnosing disorders of consciousness
    • Mental imagery (Owen et al., 2006, Monti et al. 2010)
    • Trace conditioning (Bekinschtein et al., 2009)
  • Ethical implications of these developments for extending life, pain management, quality of life considerations
  • Underlying importance of considerations of welfare and autonomy
responsibility and culpability
Responsibility and culpability
  • Biological picture puts pressure on commonsense notions of free will
  • Neuroscience puts pressure even a more sophisticated notion of free will (reasons-responsiveness)
  • How do we integrate the finding that biological factors affect ethical conduct with theories of responsibility?
  • Ethical issues arising from such understanding, including judgments of culpability, effects of interventions, ethics of interventions, etc.
public mis understanding
Public (mis)understanding
  • General scientific literacy
  • Specific problems with understanding neuroimaging data
    • Mistaken beliefs in biological (genetic, neural) determinism
    • Lack of recognition of brain plasticity and its consequences
    • Lack of appreciation of extent of individual variation
    • Difference ≠ dysfunction or disease
ethical questions
Ethical questions
  • The ethics of privacy
  • The ethics of prediction
  • The nature and value of consciousness
  • Theory of responsibility commensurate with a scientific understanding of behavior
  • Consideration of the concepts of “authenticity” and “autonomy” and their connections to and relative priority regarding considerations of welfare and other values
other important policy issues
Other important policy issues
  • Understanding range of individual variability is essential for proper interpretation of information, yet determination of such information not structurally encouraged
  • Responsible education of public and media