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.”
Tamara 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/
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 »
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 »
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.
Please RSVP to Karen Rommelfanger (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Thurs, Oct 30th at 5pm EST.
*This post was initially published on The Neuroethics Blog.
By Emily Bell, PhD
Dr. Emily Bell is Researcher at the Neuroethics Research Unit, Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM). Dr. Bell’s MSc and PhD research in Psychiatry at the University of Alberta focused on investigating brain activity in mood and anxiety disorders using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Her postdoctoral work shifted her into the field of neuroethics, where she examined ethical and social challenges associated with deep brain stimulation in psychiatric disorders. As an investigator of the Neuroethics Core of NeuroDevNet, a Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence, Dr. Bell has been involved in a wide range of network activities and research in the area of pediatric ethics. This includes recent work on the implications of stigma for public health policies and practices in fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and ethical concerns associated with the transition of youth with neurodevelopmental disorders to adult health services. Dr. Bell has been awarded support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Killam Trust. She is currently lead co-investigator on two CIHR grants, including one in the area of vulnerability and mental health research ethics. Read the rest of this entry »
*This post by Livia Merrill was originally featured on The Neuroethics Blog.
Livia Merrill is a recent graduate from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, where she has received both her B.S. and M.S. in Neuroscience. Her research of 4 years under Dr. Fiona Inglis, PhD, consisted of dendritic morphological changes in the prefrontal cortex of non-human primates after the administration of PCP. Having psychomimetic effects, this model was utilized to contribute to the study of schizophrenia and to provide for more effective anti-psychotics. Her current pursuit is under Dr. Stacy Drury, PhD to examine cortisol levels of pregnant mothers in some of the underprivileged neighborhoods of New Orleans and the epigenetic effects on their offspring. Livia’s future plans consist of research behind deviant behavior and rehabilitating subjects. Ideally, she hopes to contribute to change in the criminal justice system, where punishment can transition to rehabilitation, by demonstrating the negative effects of adverse
experiences, including punishment-based systems.
The United States has the largest population of incarcerated individuals in the world; the latest available data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate there are approximately 1.6 million inmates. Such numbers not only reveal the number of imprisoned individuals but also provide an idea of the massive impact on family members, victims, and other members of society. Furthermore, recidivism rates have revealed that one-quarter to two-thirds of released persons from state prisons are rearrested within 3 years.i Personal accounts, governmental reviews, and actions by prison activists and social workers have unveiled the grave conditions of these institutions. Such examples include a 2012 case where Los Angeles deputies were accused of violently beating inmates of the L.A. County Jail Complexii and a case in 2013 where a Mississippi prison for the mentally ill was accused of being understaffed and having deplorable living conditions, such as rat infestations, rampant diseases, sexual assaults, and malnourishment of food and medicinal treatment.iii
|An example of a typical cell in Orleans Parish Prison, New Orleans, LA. (Via therightperspective.org)|
I am a lecturer in biomedical ethics and law, primarily interested in the ethical and philosophical issues of psychiatry. I have a background in bioethics, social science, psychology and biology. I also host and co-edit a website psychiatricethics.com which features articles and multimedia on a wide range of issues in psychiatry, neuroethics and bioethics.
For several years I have been researching the ethical and philosophical issues raised by self harm and its treatment. In particular, I have been concerned with the ethical questions which arise when doctors or nurses allow patients to self harm in psychiatric hospitals. I first encountered this issue when it was reported in the British press that patients were being allowed to self cut in some NHS hospitals. For example, one inpatient was allowed to keep a piece of glass in a locked draw in her room and use it to cut her knees.
My work on self harm has had an empirical component. Read the rest of this entry »
A review of The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand Enhance, and Empower the Mind
*This post by Katie Strong was initially featured on The Neuroethics Blog.
Katie Strong is a 4th year chemistry graduate student working in Dr. Dennis Liotta’s laboratory at Emory University. Prior to graduate school, Katie received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Mary Washington, where she worked towards the development of polyethylene glycol guanidinylation reagents for protecting alkylguanidines. Katie’s graduate school research has focused on the development and synthesis of N-methyl-ᴅ-aspartate (NMDA) receptor subunit selective potentiators to be used as therapeutic probes for the study of schizophrenia and cognitive enhancement. Katie is also an Editorial Intern at the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience (AJOB Neuroscience), along with a supporting editor and regular contributor to The Neuroethics Blog, the official blog of AJOB Neuroscience.
The Future of the Mind, authored by physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, explores how neuroscience might inform questions that philosophers have been debating for centuries: Do we have a soul? What happens after we die? Do we even have to die? And what would it take to produce a robot with human consciousness or emotions? To explore these questions, Dr. Kaku interviewed hundreds of scientists who are actively conducting ground breaking work in labs around the world, and from these conversations he made predictions on how these scientific findings would shape our future. The work that Dr. Kaku discusses, such as the latest advances in brain-computer-interfaces (BCI) for the disabled,1 recording dream images with MRI machines,2 or implanting memories in mice,3,4 makes for a fascinating and engrossing read from start to finish. The Future of the Mind is at its best when taking readers through these areas of research and explaining the long-term significance, however many of the neurophilosophical questions posed are largely left to the readers’ imaginations for resolution.
The Future of the Mind is divided into three parts or books, and each book delves more and more into the technology of the future and the type of society that will exist decades and centuries from now. Book I sets the stage for how important physics is for neuroscience; the revolutionary technologies such as MRI, PET, and DBS have used basic physics knowledge, as Dr. Kaku notes, to promote the explosion of advances in the field of neuroscience. The state of these technologies in current research is introduced, along with how to conceptualize consciousness, and in Book II, he discusses how these technologies will enable us to conduct acts similar to telepathy and telekinesis, manipulate thoughts and memories, and enhance intelligence. Book III revisits the idea of consciousness and explores the possibilities related to mind-altering technologies, and suggests we reframe our understanding of consciousness beyond a single type of consciousness (i.e., dreaming, drug-induced states, and mental illnesses). He also suggests that the future understandings of consciousness may move beyond humans to include robots and aliens. Book III also explores ideas straight out of science fiction such as that one day our physical bodies will be too cumbersome for travel to other galaxies through deep space, so we’ll simply leave them behind.
By Jalayne J. Arias, JD, MA
Jalayne J. Arias is the Associate Director of the NeuroEthics Program and Assistant Professional Staff in the Department of Bioethics at the Cleveland Clinic. Ms. Arias’ work incorporates empirical and conceptual projects addressing critical legal and ethical issues inherent in diagnosing, treating, and researching Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. Most recently, she served as the principal investigator for the study Stakeholders’ Perspectives on Preclinical Alzheimer’s Diagnosis: Patients, Families and Care Givers. Her recent publication, Confidentiality in preclinical Alzheimer disease studies (Neurology), addresses confidentiality concerns relevant to biomarker testing in Alzheimer’s.
In 2007, Dr. Dubois and co-authors introduced the concept of prodromal Alzheimer’s disease in their Lancet article revising diagnostic criteria. In 2011, the National Institutes of Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association supported a series of papers introducing a new paradigm for diagnostic criteria, including Mild Cognitive Impairment and preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. Both papers and new definitions of Alzheimer’s disease incorporate the discovery of Amyloid beta, a biomarker that purports to indicate disease pathology. The concept of using biomarkers, which are detectible years before a patient begins experiencing symptoms, offers the potential for offering preclinical testing in the clinical context. Yet, as researchers continue to validate biomarkers, little is known about how preclinical test results may affect patients and their families.