*Editor’s note: This post was originally published on The Neuroethics Blog.

by Carolyn Plunkett

Carolyn Plunkett is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Philosophy Department at The Graduate Center of City University of New York. She is also an Ethics Fellow in The Bioethics Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and a Research Associate in the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. Carolyn will defend her dissertation in spring 2016, and, beginning July 2016, will be a Rudin Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Divisions of Medical Ethics and Medical Humanities at NYU Langone Medical Center. 

This post is part of a series that recaps and offers perspectives on the conversations and debates that took place at the recent 2015 International Neuroethics Society meeting.


Karen Rommelfanger, founding editor of The Neuroethics Blog, heard a talk I gave on deep brain stimulation (DBS) at Brain Matters! 3 in 2012. Three years later, she heard a brief synopsis of a paper I presented a few weeks ago at the International Neuroethics Society Annual Meeting. Afterward, she came up to me and said, “Wow! Your views have changed!” I had gone from being wary about using DBS in adults, much less minors, to defending its use in teens with anorexia nervosa. She asked me to write about this transition for this blog, and present my recent research.

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Meet-a-Member: Dr. Tomi Kushner


Dear Friends:

I am a philosopher with a special interest in neuroethics. Until retirement, I served as Clinical Professor of Bioethics in the UCSF/Berkeley Joint Medical Program, teaching bioethics to medical students, other graduate students on the Berkeley campus, and supervising Masters and PhD theses in the School of Public Health. Described below are my current projects and I am happy to extend an invitation for you to join me.

Journals: As founding editor of the CQ, The Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, I’m proud to announce that 2016 marks the journal’s 25th anniversary. Of particular interest to you, will be CQ’s “Neuroethics Now” section that welcomes papers addressing the ethical application of neuroscience in research and patient care, as well as its impact on society. Read the rest of this entry »

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Join Us at International Neuroethics Society on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 @ 7:30 pm.

JOIN US FOR FOOD AND DRINK* (each person will be responsible for his/her bill).
• Date: Friday, October 16
• Time: 7:30pm until?
• Location: Potter’s, lobby level of Palmer House Hotel, 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60603, Phone: 312.917.4933

*We will have small plates (in lieu of a sit down dinner) and drinks.
We will meet after the International Neuroethics Society poster reception. Potter’s is a 4 min walk from the INS Venue (Art Institute of Chicago).

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Meet-a-Member: Vanessa Bentley

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Editor’s note: Dr. Vanessa Bentley successfully defending on September 4, 2015. Congrats, Dr. Bentley!

Vanessa Bentley (formerly Gorley) is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati. While in the doctoral program in Philosophy, she also completed a master’s in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her research interests are in philosophy of science, philosophy of neuroscience, feminist epistemology, and neuroethics. Her interest in neuroethics has focused on neuroimaging research on sex/gender differences. Using two case studies in the neuroimaging of sex/gender differences, she has identified the many ways that the assumption of sex essentialism affects research and functions to limit scientific progress. Sex essentialism is the view that men and women are essentially different due to their sex. In addition to limiting scientific progress, research in the tradition of sex essentialism has been used to argue against women’s equal participation in society. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tips for a Job Interview

Editor’s note: Laura successfully interviewed and will be starting a new position this fall. Congratulations, Laura!!

UnknownDr. Cabrera is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the National Core for Neuroethics where she has been conducting research to explore the attitudes of the general public toward enhancing interventions, as well as the normative implications of using neurotechnologies for non-medical purposes. She received a BSc in Electrical and Communication Engineering from the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in Mexico City, an MA in Applied Ethics from Linköping University in Sweden, and a PhD in Applied Ethics from Charles Sturt University in Australia. Her career goal is to pursue interdisciplinary neuroethics scholarship, provide active leadership, and train and mentor future leaders in the field.

Email: laura.cabrera@singularityu.org

By Dr. Laura Y. Cabrera

I recently went through a job interview for a faculty position and wanted to share with the NEW Leaders community some strategies that work for me in preparing for it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hot off the presses! Ethical issues with direct-to-consumer neuroscience.

Ethical issues with Lumosity and other Direct-to-Consumer Brain Training
Games by NEW Leader, Dr. Karen Rommelfanger and her graduate student Ryan Purcell.

Article is open access here for the next 50 days until June 11, 2015.

“Internet brain training programs, where consumers serve as both subjects and funders of the research, represent the closest engagement many individuals have with neuroscience. Safeguards are needed to protect participants’ privacy and the evolving scientific enterprise of big data.”

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Meet-a-Member: Tamara Bonaci

Tamara BonaciTamara Bonaci is a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington, Department of Electrical Engineering. She is a member of the UW BioRobotics Lab and the UW Tech Policy Lab. Tamara’s research focuses on security and privacy of cyber-physical systems with humans in the loop. She is investigating privacy issues related to brain-computer interfaces, and security issues of teleoperated robots. On both of these projects, Tamara collaborates with an interdisciplinary team involving bioengineers, medical practitioners, legal scholars and philosophers.

A Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) is a communication system between the brain and the physical environment. Recent experimental results show that electroencephalograms (EEG), obtained using consumer-grade BCIs, can be used to extract private information about users. This information can be exploited to infer about users’ memory, intentions, conscious and unconscious interests, as well as emotional reactions. Privacy issues arising from the misuse of BCIs thus represent an emerging problem.
In this project, Tamara and her collaborators propose that elements of a person’s electro-physiological signals can be used to extract private information about users. This hypothesis is being tested through a series of experiments involving human participants. The recorded neural and skeletal signals are being analyzed to identify which signal components can be used for data extraction, and to quantify exposure risk through information-theoretic metrics. Of particular interest are Event Related Potential (ERP) components of EEG signals, which are known to occur as a response to a variety of stimuli.

Tamara is also developing and validating a tool to enhance privacy of brain-computer interfaces, referred to as the BCI Anonymizer. The BCI Anonymizer is essentially a signal processing tool that decomposes users’ signals into a variety of components. By doing so, the BCI Anonymizer grants access to the information corresponding to users’ intended BCI messages while at the same time preventing anyone from accessing users’ private information.

Tamara’s personal website: http://www.tamarabonaci.com
BioRobotics Laboratory: http://brl.ee.washington.edu
Tech Policy Lab: http://techpolicylab.org
UW Society of Women Engineers: http://students.washington.edu/swe/


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Meet-a-Member: Dr. Jami Anderson

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Dr. Jami L Anderson is currently an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department at University of Michigan-Flint. She primarily teaches courses in neuro- and medical ethics, disability studies, philosophy of medicine and philosophy of law. She is also the co-director of the Center for Cognition and Neuroethics.


Early in my career, I used Georg Hegel’s theory of right as a framework with which to address the problem of justifying state punishment in cases when individuals suffered extreme poverty and social alienation. Not surprisingly, my early publications directly addressed various problems within the literature that addresses Hegel’s theory of state punishment. However, a few years ago I developed a disability studies course and, not too surprisingly perhaps, my research interests moved into a new direction. I focused my attention on projects that examined social and legal policies that relied on problematic assumptions about disability identity.

I am currently completing a paper that addresses the question of whether or not learning impaired adults, in particular those with language impairments such as those experienced by some autistics, are capable of consenting (in the ethical as well as the legal sense) to sexual acts with other adults. Read the rest of this entry »


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Meet-a-Member: Dr. Jennifer Sarrett

Jenn-headshot (1)Dr. Jennifer Sarrett is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Human Health, where she teaches courses in Health Humanities, Bioethics and Disability, and Mental Illness and Culture. Her work focuses on intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) as they relate to culture, disability rights, and ethics. She began working in the field of autism and developmental 15 years ago as a special education instructor and consultant in the U.S. and abroad. With the objective of studying the role of culture in the identification, understanding, and treatment of autistic children, she obtained her PhD from Emory’s Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA), a unique interdisciplinary program. Her dissertation compared parental and professional experiences of autism in Atlanta, GA and Kerala, India. Along the way she became interested in neuroethical issues related to I/DD, including international research ethics, human rights and I/DD, and the implications of emerging technologies for early identification and diagnosis. Her work is strongly influenced by the concept of neurodiversity, a scholarly and advocacy position that works to encourage acceptance of neurological differences, including autism, rather than seeking cures and strategies to normalize autistic behavior. Dr. Sarrett has published a range of articles, including the development of a more inclusive model of human rights centered on a consideration of autistic difference; the ways images of autism depict and promote damaging tropes about autism; cultural influences on the ways parents explain their child’s autism (Spring, 2015); and ethical issues related to international research on I/DD. Read the rest of this entry »

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Join Us at International Neuroethics Society on Friday, Nov. 14, 2013 @ 7:30 pm.

JOIN US FOR FOOD* AND DRINKS at International Neuroethics Society (each person will be responsible for his/her bill).

  • Date: Friday, November 14
  • Time: 7:30pm until?
  • Location: Cure Bar and Bistro, 1000 H Street Washington, DC, CA 2001 (Grand Hyatt’s bar) Phone: (202) 582-1234

*We will have heavy appetizers (in lieu of a sit down dinner) and drinks.

We will meet after the International Neuroethics Society poster reception at Cure Bar and Bistro at the Grand Hyatt, which is a 4 min walk from the INS Venue (AAAS). See map below for directions from AAAS to the Cure Bar and Bistro.

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Please RSVP to Karen Rommelfanger (krommel@emory.edu) by Thurs, Oct 30th at 5pm EST.

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