Neuroethics

Not to brag too much about my old friend, but I thought that Dr. Larriviere’s recent grand rounds on the ethics of neuroenhancement was fantastic.

Thus primed, an interview in today’s New York Times caught my eye. The interviewee is Dr. S. Matthew Liao, director of the bioethics program at NYU. He mentions neuroenhancement, but talks about a few other very interesting questions:

  • Might beta blockers, given to military troops to reduce PTSD, have the unintended consequence of making them remorseless?
  • If the state puts a criminal defendant in an fMRI scanner, does that violate his 5th amendment protection against self-incrimination?
  • If an employer could give you a computer chip to enhance your memory, would they then be able to “take away your memories” if your employment were terminated?

It’s a very interesting piece . . .

About Justin A. Sattin

I'm a vascular neurologist and residency program director. I created this blog in order to share some thoughts with my resident and other colleagues, and to foster my own learning as well.
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2 Responses to Neuroethics

  1. larriviere says:

    Thanks for the shout out!
    Matt was a Greenwall Fellow a year or so behind me at Hopkins. Interesting article.

  2. Joseph Cahill says:

    Thanks to Dr. Larriviere and Dr. Sattin for the interesting Grand Rounds.

    I find this subject fascinating. Pharmacologic enhancement has been used for decades in Military fighter pilots. I was assigned as medical staff to Marine Corps F-18 Squadrons in the 90s. Pilots were prescribed Dexedrine for deployment and long flights routinely. There was never a question about whether this was ethically wrong or right. We wanted our pilots to have the best advantage in the worst of situations. I feel if the consumer on the street were asked whether they would want their pilot, surgeon, firefighter, etc to have an advantage, be it chemical or not, you would most likely get a resounding “yes”.

    I read an article in the LA Times years ago (I can’t find the article now) that discussed the research article below. A Stanford study that looked at pilots’ reaction times while using Aricept compared to those not. Besides side effects and not knowing long term outcomes in “healthy” subjects, the initial outcomes were positive.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12105320?dopt=Abstract
    http://svalz.stanford.edu/docs/aloth5.pdf

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