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  • Updated 02.10.2024
  • Released 08.02.2017
  • Expires For CME 02.10.2027

Ethical issues in neurology



Neuroethics is a distinct content field concerned with “the ethics of neuroscience and the neuroscience of ethics.” Neuroethics focuses on the ethics of changing the nervous system when conducting clinical research or care (52), as well as neurotechnology research and application. It includes social and policy issues associated with their use. It is particularly relevant to clinical specialties like neurology, neurologic surgery, and neuropsychology. Neuroethics is a young and rapidly growing field that has substantially impacted scientific research and clinical practice. Neuroethics has been emphasized by Barack Obama’s Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues and has become an integral part of major national-level funded neuroscience initiatives across the globe. It is even considered an emerging potential career path among neurologists (67).

Key points

• The modern association of personhood and identity with the mind and brain distinguishes neuroethics from other subjects of bioethical inquiry.

• Neuroethics focuses on the ethics of neurotechnology research and application as well as social and policy issues associated with their use.

• As neuroscience continues to evolve and the nature of possible clinical interventions changes, neurologists must begin to consider the implications of interventions to the brain on personhood and identity, autonomy and agency, as well as for informed consent.

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