SCIENCE AND SOCIETY
The United States has been a hub of twenty-
first century neuroethics activity, and has
International perspectives on hosted various key events that have come
to define the field. In 2002, for example, the
Dana Foundation BOX 1 sponsored the con-
engaging the public in neuroethics ference ‘Neuroethics: Mapping the Field’8.
In 2004, the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS) sponsored
Judy Illes, Colin Blakemore, Mats G. Hansson, Takao K. Hensch, a meeting on neuroscience and law9 and, in
Alan Leshner, Gladys Maestre, Pierre Magistretti, Rémi Quirion and 2005, another on neuroethics and religion.
Piergiorgio Strata The Library of Congress sponsored a neuro-
ethics meeting called ‘Hard Science – Hard
Choices’, also in 2005. With funding from
With an ever-increasing understanding to our ‘selves’4. Frontier technology that is The Greenwall Foundation, a special issue
of the brain mechanisms associated with able to touch on our personhood5, especially of the journal Brain and Cognition was pub-
core human attributes and values, there is in bioscience and information science, is lished devoted to ethical issues in advanced
an increasing public interest in the results shaping our future. The public must have the neuroimaging 10 , The Dana Foundation’s
of neuroscience research and the ways in power — defined by quality of knowledge journal Cerebrum published a special issue
which that new knowledge will be used. and ease of access — to help shape that future. on neuroethics in the Fall of 2004 REF. 11 and
Here, we present perspectives on engaging Neuroethics has surfaced, and is here to stay, the US-based American Journal of Bioethics
the public on these issues on an international if not for this reason alone. Gone are the days published its own special issue on neuro-
scale, the role of the media, and prospects when behaviour was reduced directly to the ethics in 2005 REF. 12. The fierce interest
for the new field of neuroethics as both a function of a single gene; instead, behaviour of the American public in their brains, and
focus and a driver of these efforts. is increasingly seen to be an emergent prop- growing understanding about brain diseases
erty of a distributed information processing that affect millions of people, has been due, in
The first chapter in Mary Roach’s book Stiff: system, synapses and neurotransmission6. part, to concerted efforts to share the excite-
The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is Genetics provides crucial bottom-up tools ment of neuroscience discoveries as well as
called ‘A Head is a Terrible Thing to Waste’1. with which to investigate inherited mecha- their ethical, social and legal implications.
That this book holds a top place on the New nisms linked to illness, and although the Public engagement efforts in the United
York Times bestseller list is no surprise. The ethics of genetics and other neighbouring States have generally involved two approaches
interest of the public in the workings of the disciplines provide a legitimate starting point to science literacy and action — education
body and the human mind is an age-old for thinking about neuroethics, they do not and dialogue. This is consistent with the
phenomenon. Depictions of the anatomy suffice. Top-down tools, such as neuroimag- approaches described by the World Health
theatres of the sixteenth and seventeenth ing, provided by integrative neuroscience now Organization13 for informed decisions about
centuries in Holland by Rembrandt in his have an important role in pursuing knowledge health care, participation in government deci-
famous painting ‘The Anatomy Lesson of about what it is to be human, and responding sions in research and treatment of new neuro-
Dr. Joan Deijman’, and elsewhere2, show that to the global burden of CNS disease. New logical disease and mental illnesses, critical
the dissection of the human form and condi- challenges are defined by both the sheer judgement of neuroscience-related material
tion has long been a matter of both public complexity of neuroscience research and the in popular media, and promotion of optimal
spectacle and education3. interpretation of data that is bound by culture brain development. The straightforward
Today, the curiosity and hope that are and human anthropology7. In anticipation of educational approach encompassing these
associated with neuroscience are closely growing areas in which attention might be approaches seeks to increase public under-
linked to the explicit ethical, legal and social paid to neuroethics, we explore neuroethics standing and appreciation of neuroscience
issues that have come to accompany it. In the priorities across international borders, the role research. The dialogue approach attempts
public arena, there is growing recognition of the media and prospects for this burgeoning to engage the public in discussion about
and acceptance that the brain is the seat of the field, which are likely to have a far-reaching the significance of neuroscience discovery
mind, and thus central to our very humanity, effect on public engagement. for society.
NATURE REVIEWS | NEUROSCIENCE VOLUME 6 | DECEMBER 2005 | 977
Box 1 | The Dana Alliance to engage in neuroethics activities, especially
in the context of the annual Brain Awareness
The Dana Alliance, which includes the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives in the United States Week, which is now a global event. Many
and Canada, and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, is a non-profit organization. It is Canadian chapters hold outreach events
supported by the Dana Foundation, whose membership includes 400 leading neuroscientists, aimed at explaining the impact of recent
including 15 Nobel laureates. The Dana Alliance is committed to advancing public awareness discoveries on the treatment of neurological
about the progress and benefits of brain research, and to disseminating scientific information disorders and mental illnesses to the public.
to the general public in an understandable and accessible fashion.
INMHA has observed that public participa-
Since the May 2002 conference on neuroethics, co-sponsored with Stanford University, USA,
tion is markedly enhanced if target topics are
and the University of California San Francisco, USA, and published proceedings, the Dana
disease-oriented or particularly provocative
Alliance has followed up by sponsoring and hosting symposia, forums and workshops, publishing
newsletters and articles, and advancing discussion on this crucial new field in the United States
(for example, music and the brain, or sex
and Europe. The latest book from the Dana Press is The Ethical Brain by Michael Gazzaniga. and the brain). Public participation is also
The Dana Centre at the Science Museum in London is a new focus for public engagement. It notably strong in Canada where graduate
provides a lively programme of talks, debates and other events on many aspects of science that students are directly involved in organizing
are aimed at an audience of young adults. Because the offices of the European Dana Alliance for the events, including visits to primary and
the Brain are housed in the same building, the programme of events has quite a strong emphasis junior high schools. Canadian leadership
on neuroscience, but it extends across the whole of science. The Centre has state-of-the-art believes, as others have observed19, that it is
facilities for digital communication: James Watson took part in a webcast discussion, and earlier vital to engage the public with neuroethics as
this year a transatlantic video-conference on neuroethics was held between the Dana Centres in early as possible in life.
London and in Washington around the theme ‘The Ethical Brain’14. Canadian schools lead additional initia-
For more information on the Dana Alliance, its grants, outreach activities, and free tives that expose students to various aspects
publications, visit www.dana.org. of neuroscience and the career opportuni-
ties in the field. One particularly popular
venue is a free movie series held at the
campus of the Douglas Hospital Research
Specific public education efforts have research as well as the societal implications Center in Montreal. At the end of the show,
originated from funding agencies, including of neuroscience advances. She also began neuroscientists comment on the movie and
many at the National Institutes of Health discussions of how to broach these subjects answer questions from the audience. Movies
(NIH), from professional societies, such as with the public. shown during the past 2 years include A
the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), and more In The Ethical Brain14, Gazzaniga introduces Beautiful Mind (schizophrenia), Rain Man
specialized groups focused on both neurology ethical issues that concern the development (autism), Pollock (alcoholism) and Fourth
and psychiatry, and from patient advocacy and expression of human consciousness — of July (post-traumatic stress disorder).
groups, such as the National Alliance for the issues that are central to understanding the Both positive and negative messages must
Mentally Ill (NAMI). A dramatic effort was nature of humanity and our very existence. be carefully considered with events that
the initiative that culminated in the declara- For example, understanding at what develop- feature such popular films, as stereotypical
tion of the ‘Decade of the Brain’ in 1990. The mental stage consciousness first emerges has depictions of the mentally ill that “may seem
efficacy of the effort was evident, in part, from implications for embryological research and like harmless Hollywood distortions”20 have
the ever-growing public acceptance — gained its applications. A study by Kosfeld and his a way of working themselves into society’s
after decades of intensive work by scientists, colleagues on neuroendocrine influences of subconscious. In 2004, in partnership with
clinicians, and patients and their families human trust provides another example of the Canadian Alliance for Mental Health,
— of the fact that severe mental illnesses such ways in which neuroscience research might INMHA organized ‘Mindscape’, an art exhi-
as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are get closer than ever before to elucidating bition presented at the National Art Gallery
brain diseases rather than simply symptoms core human traits and values15. These extend of Canada in Ottawa that was aimed at reduc-
of weak wills or poor parenting. naturally to other neuroethics issues, includ- ing the stigma and discrimination linked to
Dialogue with the public has led to ing issues of personal responsibility in brain brain disease and mental illness. INMHA
increasing recognition that advances in diseases that affect behaviour16, vulnerability also actively supports the development of a
neuroscience and their application in clinical of individuals with addictions or dementia17, bilingual, interactive public-oriented web site
settings could have significant ethical and and privacy18. on the functional organization of the normal
legal ramifications that require discussion Canada is following closely on the heels and pathological brain (The brain from top
not only among scientists but with all stake- of US leadership in promoting opportunities to bottom, based at McGill University).
holders. For example, the US President’s for engaging the public in neuroscience, and This site represents many different levels of
Council on Bioethics, which was created by the support for specific research initiatives in expertise and is among the most frequented
an executive order in 1995, has devoted some neuroethics, largely through multi-year team by major search engines.
effort to issues related to neuroethics. Another grant programme funding, surpasses that In Japan, one of the world’s most educated
example is that of Huda Akil, who dedicated of the United States. Led by the Institute of and most rapidly ageing societies, govern-
her presidential year (1998) at the American Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction ment efforts to promote brain research at
College of Neuropsychopharmacology to (INMHA), one of the Canadian Institutes both ends of the life spectrum are being
working on ethical issues relating to basic of Health Research, a partnership has been encouraged. In 1995, sleep disorders were
and clinical neuroscience. She convened a formed that includes the Dana Foundation, recognized as both a health and a social
series of meetings and workshops that con- the Canadian Chapters of SfN and non- problem21. Studies were designed to focus not
sidered the ethical conduct of neuroscience government voluntary sector organizations only on the medical features but also on the
978 | DECEMBER 2005 | VOLUME 6 www.nature.com/reviews/neuro
characteristics and role of sleep and dreaming Japanese scientists were also the first to publications such as Travel in the Brain30,
in Asian culture and philosophy. In 2003, develop MRI techniques for the early detec- and a newly founded National Institute of
the research initiative ‘Nurturing the Brain’ tion of amyloid plaque deposits in the brain Neuroscience place neuroscience literacy
was launched to focus on the development in vivo well before the onset of dementia28. among their core objectives. Television,
and maintenance of ‘normal’ brain function. Similar advances might motivate the design magazines and public lectures by scientists,
These new efforts encompass embryonic and of brain–machine interfaces (neural pros- particularly in high schools, further respond
postnatal maturation as well as education, theses) beyond primary sensory systems29. As to the Italian public’s interests in and call for
adult learning and prevention of mental recently introduced in an inaugural sympos- neuroscience information. In 2004, a meet-
decline with ageing22. The honorary presi- ium on ‘Neuroethics of Nurturing the Brain’ ing on the ethics, social, humanitarian and
dent of the International Brain Research at the Japanese Society for Neuroscience ecological aspects of robotics was held in
Organization, Masao Ito, was among the meeting in 2005, a significant issue in these Sanremo, Italy31. This event was representa-
first to embrace the Brain Awareness Week discussions is the definition of an optimal or tive of the growing interest in ‘technoethics’,
concept, which has seen increasing par- ideal brain. Both cultural and personal inter- in which the initial emphasis was on neu-
ticipation in Japan since its launch almost pretations must be honoured, and neuroethics rally-controlled implantable devices. This
6 years ago. He also promoted current ini- must co-evolve with the science that upholds interest is gaining momentum in other parts
tiatives of the Organisation for Economic the importance of individual differences. of Europe (as indicated by events such as the
Co-operation and Development (OECD) International Conference on Robotics and
to link brain science and education in the Automation 2005 Workshop on Robo-Ethics
form of international research networks on “One of the greatest societal in Barcelona32), and in the United States.
literacy, numeracy and life-long learning. In Sweden there is a long tradition, upheld
One of the greatest societal demands
demands in Japan is for by universities, hospitals and research foun-
in Japan is for accurate information about accurate information about dations, of advancing public awareness about
critical periods in brain development. When the progress and benefits of brain research.
is the best time to begin teaching English? critical periods in brain The activities of the Decade of the Brain
Or sports? What is the influence of video development.” in the 1990s reached all sectors of society,
games, cell phones and ‘anime’ (Japanese and the Swedish Brain Foundation has col-
animations) on children? Many of the mod- laborated with local hospitals and schools for
ern ills emerging among Japanese youth are With a proactive focus on the overall several years during their Brain Awareness
attributed to excessive technology. Staggering understanding and dissemination of infor- Week. Yearly conferences held on a regional
increases in violent crimes, vagrancy and sui- mation about brain function and diseases, basis, and publications such as The Brain
cide among this sector of the population raise a Brain Awareness Week has been held in of the Child (Royal Swedish Academy of
many questions about what can be done for Switzerland every year since 1998 with con- Sciences, 2005) are successful mechanisms in
children who burn out (known as ‘kireru’). siderable success. In 2005, a joint ‘Festival this country for disseminating information
In response, large cohort studies that will Science et Cité — Brain Awareness Week’ about neuroscience research and discover-
follow 10,000 Japanese children during the focused on the theme of consciousness, ies that might alleviate suffering for patients
first several years of life have been launched and involved 19 cities with more than 500 with brain diseases.
under the rubric of ‘Brain Science and events, including exhibits, films and open In 2005, eight sponsors of research from
Education’. This links paediatricians, educa- conferences. Artists-in-residence and actors both the public and private sectors under-
tors, parents and scientists on a scale that has stayed in research laboratories or hospitals took an ambitious initiative to specifically
not previously been attempted23. Privacy and and produced a theatre piece that was shown promote public engagement in matters
confidentiality are key issues for the nascent during the festival. These events, which relating to brain research and neuroscience
ethics committees across the country. were co-sponsored by the European Dana in Sweden. The effort includes collaborations
Scientists in Japan are at the forefront of Alliance for the Brain (EDAB) in partnership with local science museums and schools.
understanding the cellular and molecular with the Swiss Society for Neuroscience and Forskning, a public web site, is a core resource
bases of critical periods in brain develop- held under the patronage of the Minister of for stimulating debate and discussion. This
ment24. One need only consider the synchro- Education and Research, also led to the crea- project differs from previous ones in Sweden
nized, photic seizures that were induced in tion of other structures designed to bridge the in that it includes a comprehensive section
almost 1,000 Japanese children by an episode gap between science and the public. Among on neuroethics. Issues that relate to personal
of Pokemon to see the relevance of the basic the most innovative are ‘cafés scientifiques’, a responsibility and identity, discussions about
biology of neural plasticity to humans25. Stem movement originating in the United Kingdom what is normal and the potential benefits of
cell research26 is also facing ethical scrutiny, that provides an informal setting for dialogue enhancing brain function are raised, as are
but, in general, the largely Buddhist culture between scientists and the public. the consequences of manipulating complex
views the research as a positive contribu- Brain Awareness Week is also a recurring human behaviour.
tion to society. Similarly, although Japanese initiative in Italy. Originally undertaken by The strong current commitment to sci-
researchers have revealed signature changes several individual scientists and now coor- ence communication in the United Kingdom
on functional MRI (fMRI) that accompany dinated on a broader scale by the Italian was launched by the Bodmer Report from
second language learning27, concerns about Neuroscience Society, it involves 100 events the Royal Society, the British Association
mind reading and neural discrimination, spread across the entire national territory. for the Advancement of Science and the
which have emerged in other parts of the The Italian Government was the first in the Royal Institution in 1985. The establish-
world, have not penetrated this island world to endorse the US-led initiative for ment of a national Committee on the
nation. the Decade of the Brain in the 1990s, and Public Understanding of Science in 1986
NATURE REVIEWS | NEUROSCIENCE VOLUME 6 | DECEMBER 2005 | 979
led to a wide range of activities, from an help teachers understand the workings of in neuroscience across the academic com-
annual National Science Week to graduate the brain, behaviour that has an impact on munity, government and general public,
courses in science communication. A shift brain health, and the basis of individuality and skepticism that brain research can bring
of emphasis from didactic communication to and personal style. concrete benefits when minimum standards
active dialogue came in 2000 with a report The response to these initiatives in of living are barely being met35. However,
entitled ‘Science and Society’ from the House Venezuela has been excellent in terms of specific challenges brought out by disparities
of Lords Select Committee on Science and quality and numbers of discussions in pub- relating to poverty, ethnicity and low educa-
Technology, and now there is robust debate lic forums, but they do not reach enough tion are undifferentiated between developed
about whether and how the public should be people to have an impact on public policy. and developing countries.
involved in setting the strategic agenda of The public’s low average level of educa-
academic science, as well as their well estab- tion does not seem to be the limitation, Public engagement and the media
lished participation in ethical debate. as Venezuelan people are eager to learn. “Between the scientist and the public stand
EDAB, often working in partnership Rather, the involvement of more scientists the media”36, and we must work effectively
with the British Neuroscience Association, with well-honed skills and special funding with them to defend and uphold science and
the Science Museum, the British Association for their research are needed. With new ini- scientific values.
and others, and with strong support from the tiatives underway thanks to recent political The media have played a powerful part in
academic and clinical neuroscience commu- changes, optimism is high for improvements bringing and translating science to the public
nities, has been influential in raising public in awareness about public engagement in arena on an international scale, and neuro-
interest and awareness of neuroscience in the public policies. ‘Science for the people’ is science has had its fair share of attention,
United Kingdom. EDAB now has its head- the phrase that accompanies every letter although the partnership has sometimes
quarters in a building on London’s Science and every announcement coming from been an uneasy one given different profes-
Museum site — which also houses the Dana the Ministry of Science and Technology. sional orientations and goals37. Advances in
Centre — and has a busy schedule of varied Although more is still said than actually research for HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease,
science-related events, many of them con- done, the impact is evident among research- mental illness, genetics and the development
cerned with neuroscience. Neuroethics has ers and advocacy groups who have a new of neurotechnology have all been the focus
become a subject of considerable interest. feeling of empowerment and an even deeper of attention, bringing enthusiasm and, at the
The UK government recently announced sense of urgency and immediateness. This same time, trepidation. In one study of the
an ambitious 10-year plan for increasing its is also evident in Brazil, where a web site media’s treatment of fMRI results published
total investment in an already wide portfolio dedicated to neuroscience receives 300 ‘hits’ in the United States and internationally38,
of science innovation to 2.5% of the Gross per day, with the greatest number on topics the authors showed how easily deterministic
Domestic Product by 2014, and public relating to memory and consciousness33. messages about the human brain can be
engagement is an integral part of this plan. conveyed.
The European Commission also has relevant In Switzerland, the important role of the
projects in its current Sixth Framework “The media have played a media was illustrated several years ago by
Programme. These include new initiatives in the outcome of a referendum against genetic
the ethics of biobanking, human embryonic
powerful part in bringing engineering and, in 2004, by the results of
stem cells and dual-use human research. and translating science one against stem cells. Neither referendum
In comparison to other international succeeded: the role of the newspaper, maga-
efforts, public engagement activities in Latin
to the public arena on an zine, radio and TV media in providing a
American countries, such as Venezuela, are international scale.” forum for the views of many scientists cannot
limited. One such effort is being led by be underestimated.
families and patients with disorders such In Italy, despite a lack of media central-
autism or Alzheimer’s disease. It calls on In developing countries, there are unique ization, many initiatives are advanced by
scientists to become involved in translating practical barriers to caring for patients with radio and television programmes. The most
their research findings and directing their neurological diseases; engaging the public in popular scientific radio programme, Quark,
research to applied areas. Financial support is discussions about their ethical implications includes a topic on the brain every week.
available from the pharmaceutical industry. is even more difficult. The two main chal- Another programme, Radio3scienza, regu-
The second effort involves government-run lenges are disease identification (especially larly features scientists who speak about new
public campaigns. For example, a campaign if disease is associated with stigma, as epi- data appearing in the scientific literature.
on drug prevention has been designed to lepsy is among certain African populations) However, despite the vocal support in Italy,
generate responses from the public and and ethical allocation of limited resources in the summer of 2005, of a large number of
develop strategies for fighting drug con- to achieve patient benefit34. Social market- scientists to abolish a restrictive law regulating
sumption. The third involves initiatives led ing with mass media campaigns may work in vitro fertilization, their efforts through the
by groups of academics that obtain most of for urban areas, but in rural settings grass media and elsewhere paled in comparison
their support from international agencies roots efforts aimed at recruiting and educat- to the campaign mounted by the Catholic
rather than from their own Universities nor ing community leaders are more powerful. Church. As a result, limitations stand on
from the Venezuelan government. Most of The incorporation of education about creating new frozen human embryos, carry-
these are related to science education and, certain diseases proactively into culturally- ing out tests on the embryo before implan-
again, the Brain Awareness Week. Faculty at appropriate curricula is essential, but success tation to diagnose genetic diseases, and the
the University of Zulia have also developed is challenged by a lack of funding, isolation, scientific use of embryonic material that is
a programme that runs all-year-round to few research students, a low level of interest already frozen.
980 | DECEMBER 2005 | VOLUME 6 www.nature.com/reviews/neuro
Press briefings at professional meet- Box 2 | Some international initiatives in neuroethics and public engagement
ings, information pages on the Internet,
and modern blogging have also emerged as United States
solid forces in the effort to bridge gaps in • Conferences, including Neuroethics: Mapping the Field; Neuroscience and Law; and
neuroscience and neuroethics knowledge. Neuroscience and Religion
Experience has shown that large lectures • Special journal issues on neuroethics in Brain and Cognition; Cerebrum; and The American
or town meetings can be unbalanced and Journal of Bioethics
even become hijacked by extremist views. • Special research funding, professional and academic events (for example, National
Inefficient as they might seem, smaller Institutes of Health; Society for Neuroscience; National Alliance for the Mentally Ill)
group sessions that are focused on specific
• Brain Awareness Week events
questions and action items are more effec-
tive. In this regard, Timpane’s39 urgings for Canada
a bottom-up deliberative process of public • Multi-year team grant funding for research
engagement in neuroethics that uses citizen • Public events on mental health
groups to form consensus recommendations
• Art exhibitions
are much appreciated. In 2003, Rose40 wrote:
“teach science and teach about science”. • Bilingual, interactive and public-oriented web sites on the functional organization of
Indeed, the movement for public under-
standing is a two-way street where scientists • Brain Awareness Week events
come to understand the public, and science Japan
is communicated both in its social context
• ‘Nurturing the Brain’ research initiative and accompanying special professional and public
and in socially just ways. This ensures that
events at the Japanese Society for Neuroscience
the requirements for public understanding
• Japan-promoted Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development initiatives
of both the research process and the proc-
and international research networks on literacy, numeracy and life-long learning
ess of generating knowledge and scientific
evidence are met. • Brain Awareness Week events
Risks of public engagement?
• Brain Awareness Week events and expanded joint activities, including Festival Science
A risk of public engagement is that of
creating false hopes and expectations by
• Cafés scientifiques
releasing results too early, especially in
the context of devastating CNS diseases. Italy
Misunderstandings resulting from oversim- • Special educational publications
plified scientific facts can lead to activism
• Newly founded National Institute of Neuroscience with neuroscience literacy among its
(for example, animal rights activists and the core objectives
early education ‘hot-housing’ movement),
• Public and academic lectures, and information dissemination through the media
and a sense of obligation to take a particular
social or ethical stance41, even in matters • Brain Awareness Week events
that are not well understood (for example, Sweden
nuclear cell transfer or stem cells). New
• New annual conferences that specifically promote public engagement of neuroscience,
developments in neuroscience can chal- which involve museums, schools and universities
lenge established values and attitudes, and
• Brain Awareness Week events
even political views and, as in other areas
of life sciences, forestalling progress can be United Kingdom
an easy way out. More complex arguments • Establishment of a national Committee on the Public Understanding of Science
— that failure to act may be at least unethical
• Initiatives by the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, in partnership with the British
— are frequently lost. It is therefore essential Neuroscience Association, the Science Museum, the British Association for the
that evaluation of emerging ethical issues in Advancement of Science and other organizations
neuroscience is based on sound research and
• Brain Awareness Week events
scholarship. International conferences that
• Cafés scientifiques
are bringing scholars from the humanities
and social sciences to work together with European Commission
neuroscientists are positive steps towards • Current Sixth Framework Programme includes new initiatives in the ethics of biobanking,
advancing awareness of neuroethical issues human embryonic stem cells, and dual-use human research
and public engagement in the future.
There is a legitimate civic duty and demo- Venezuela
cratic gain in engaging the public42,43. Ethical • Family-led initiatives funded by the pharmaceutical industry, which emphasize
issues should not be left to the experts alone, translational research
nor be discussed in closed rooms. There is • Government-run public campaigns such as drug prevention
ample opportunity to capitalize on lessons • Brain Awareness Week events
from the past. Recent examples, such as the
NATURE REVIEWS | NEUROSCIENCE VOLUME 6 | DECEMBER 2005 | 981
introduction in Sweden of new reproductive Takao K. Hensch is at the RIKEN Brain Science 22. Ito, M. Nurturing the brain as an emerging research field
Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako-shi, Saitama, involving child neurology. Brain Dev. 26, 429–433 (2004).
technologies (for instance, pre-implantation 23. Koizumi, H. The concept of ‘developing the brain’: a new
genetic diagnosis) and stem cell research are natural science for learning and education. Brain Dev.
25, 434–441 (2004).
among them44. Soon after the science news Alan Leshner is at the American Association for
24. Hensch, T. K. Critical period regulation. Annu. Rev.
the Advancement of Science, 1200 New York
hit the public arena in Sweden, the ethical Neurosci. 27, 549–579 (2004).
Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20005, USA. 25. Takahashi, T. & Tsukahara, Y. Pocket Monster incident
issues became a concern. Special expert ethi- and low luminance visual stimuli: special reference to
cal committees were organized specifically Gladys Maestre is at the Institute of Biological deep red flicker stimulation. Acta. Paediatr. Jpn. 40,
Research, Department of Neuroscience, University 631–637 (1998).
for handling these issues and, as advisory of Zulia School of Medicine, Apartado Postal 26. Uchida, K. et al. Potential functional neural repair with
bodies, were successful in guiding political 10.277, Maracaibo Zulia 4002, Venezuela. grafted neural stem cells of early embryonic
neuroepithelial origin. Neurosci. Res. 52, 276–286
decisions, legislation and policy-making. Pierre Magistretti is at the Institut de Physiologie, (2005).
The benefit of this approach is threatened University of Lausanne, 7 Rue du Bugnon, 27. Tatsuno, Y. & Sakai, K. L. Language-related activations
in the left prefrontal regions are differentially modulated
by the risk that such organizations, which Lausanne 1005, Switzerland, and the Federal by age, proficiency, and task demands. J. Neurosci.,
serve as filters between scientists on the one Institute of Technology (EPFL), 1637–1644 (2005).
Lausanne, Switzerland. 28. Higuchi, M. et al. 19F and 1H MRI detection of amyloid β
hand, and politicians and the general public plaques in vivo. Nature Neurosci. 8, 527–533 (2005).
on the other, can lose their accountability to Rémi Quirion is at the Institute of Neurosciences, 29. Mussa-Ivaldi, F. A. & Miller, L. E. Brain-machine
those directly concerned with their advice Mental Health and Addiction, Canadian interfaces: computational demands and clinical needs
Institutes of Health Research, Douglas Hospital meet basic neuroscience. Trends Neurosci. 26, 329–334
— patients with CNS disease and their Research Centre, 6875 Boulevard LaSalle, Verdun (2003).
30. Levi, G., Meldolesi, J. & Strata, P. (eds) Viaggio nel
families. QC H4H 1R3, Canada. cervello (Zadig, Milan, 2004) (in Italian).
True public engagement is a lofty goal. Piergiorgio Strata is at the Rita Levi Montalcini 31. First International Symposium on Roboethics [online]
Here, we have only sampled a few of the Center for Brain Repair, Department of 32. International Conference on Robotics and Automation
independent efforts on the international Neuroscience, University of Turin, 2005 Workshop on Robo-Ethics in Barcelona [online]
scene and only to the extent that they reflect Corso Raffaello 30, 10125 Turin, Italy. <http://www-arts.sssup.it/IEEE_TC_RoboEthics/>
attention to ethical issues intersecting with Correspondence to J.I. e-mail: email@example.com 33. Herculano-Houzel, S. What does the public want to
know about the brain? Nature Neurosci. 6, 325 (2003).
neuroscience. They are summarized in BOX 2. doi:1038/nrn1808 34. Birbeck, G. Barriers to care for patients with neurologic
New opportunities for greater interaction 1. Roach, M. The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
disease in rural Zambia. Arch. Neurol. 57, 414–417
from both poor and developed countries (2000).
(W. W. Norton and Company, London, 2003).
35. Quirk, G. J. Neuroscience in developing countries:
2. Zimmer, C. Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain
are vital for informing the international neu- — and How it Changed the World (Free Press, New
getting around the problems. Int. J. Neurosci. 99,
roethics experience overall. Brain Awareness 89–103 (1999).
36. Blakemore, C. Neuroscience and the media: the need
Weeks represent a concerted effort, but the 3. Gross, C. G. Rembrandt’s ‘The Anatomy Lesson of
for communication. Neuroscience 57, 217–226 (1993).
Dr. Joan Deijman’. Trends Neurosci. 21, 237–240
efficacy of these initiatives in terms of pro- 37. Thompson, R. A. & Nelson, C. A. Developmental science
and the media: early brain development. Am. Psychol.
moting science engagement, especially with 4. Leshner, A. It’s time to go public with neuroethics. Am.
56, 5–15 (2001).
J. Bioeth. 5, 1–2 (2005).
respect to neuroethics, needs to be formally 38. Racine, E., Bar-Ilan, O. & Illes, J. fMRI in the public eye.
5. Illes, J., Kirschen, M. P. & Gabrieli, J. D. E. From
Nature Rev. Neurosci. 6, 159–164 (2005).
assessed. neuroimaging to neuroethics. Nature Neurosci. 6, 250
39. Timpane, J. in Cerebrum (ed. Donway, W.) 100–107
As neuroscience continues to unlock the 6. Hyman, S. The millennium of mind, brain and behavior.
(The Dana Foundation Press, New York, 2004).
40. Rose, S. P. How to (or not to) communicate science.
many unknowns of mind and behaviour, we Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 57, 88–89 (2000).
Biochem. Soc. Trans. 31, 307–312 (2003).
7. Illes, J. & Racine, E. Imaging or imagining? A neuroethics
must always keep in sight the ultimate tar- challenge informed by genetics. Am. J. Bioeth. 5, 5–18
41. Durodié, B. Limitations of public dialogue in science and
the rise of new ‘experts’. Crit. Rev. Intl Soc. Polit. Philos.
get of our work: the betterment of human- (2005).
6, 82–92 (2004).
8. Marcus, S. Neuroethics: Mapping the Field (The Dana
ity worldwide. With an ever-improving Foundation Press, New York, 2002).
42. Bodmer, W. The Public Understanding of Science (The
Royal Society, London, 1985).
understanding of the mechanisms that are 9. Garland, G. Neuroscience and the Law: Brain, Mind,
43. Illes, J., Racine, E. & Kirschen, M. P. in Neuroethics:
and the Scales of Justice (Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago,
associated with core human attributes and USA, 2004).
Defining the Issues in Theory, Practice, Policy (ed. Illes,
J.) (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, in the press).
values, public interest and concern will only 10. Illes, J. (ed.) Ethical Challenges in Advanced
44. Hansson, M. G. in Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
Neuroimaging (Academic, New York, 2002).
increase about neuroscience and the way that 11. Donway, W. (ed.) Cerebrum (The Dana Foundation
and Embryo Selection (ed. Jónsdóttir, I.) 80–90
(TemaNord, Nordic Council of Ministers, Copenhagen, in
new knowledge will be used. More education Press, New York, 2004).
12. Focus on neuroethics. Am. J. Bioeth. 5 (2), 1–63 (2005).
might not always lead to more freedom and 13. Obot, I. S., Poznyak, V. & Monterio, M. From basic
resources for science but, in the global task research to public health policy: WHO report on the
The generous support of The Greenwall Foundation in under-
neuroscience of substance dependence. Addict. Behav.
of public engagement in issues of ethics and 29, 1497–1502 (2004).
writing the first neuroethics program at Stanford University is
gratefully acknowledged. This work is also supported by a
neuroscience, the only real risk is not to do 14. Gazzaniga, M. The Ethical Brain (The Dana Foundation
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS;
Press, New York, 2005).
it at all. 15. Kosfeld, M., Heinrichs, M., Zak, P. J., Fischbacher, U. &
part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)) grant to J.I.
Fehr, E. Oxytocin increases trust in humans. Nature 435,
Judy Illes is at the Stanford Center for Biomedical 571–572 (2005).
Competing interests statement
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Ethics, Department of Radiology, 701 Welch Road, 16. Damasio, A. Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the
Human Brain (HarperCollins, New York, 1994).
Building A, Suite 1105, Palo Alto, California
17. Hall, W., Carter, L. & Morley, K. I. Neuroscience research
94304-5748, USA. on the addictions: a prospectus for future ethical and Online links
policy analysis. Addict. Behav. 29, 1481–1495 (2004).
Colin Blakemore is at the University Laboratory of 18. Foster, K. in Neuroethics: Defining the Issues in Theory, FURTHER INFORMATION
Physiology, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Practice and Policy (ed. Illes, J.) 185–200 (Oxford Univ. Forskning: www.forskning.se/sehjarnan
Oxford OX1 3PT, UK, and the Medical Research Press, Oxford, in the press). Organisation for Economic Co-opertaion and
Council, London, UK. 19. Zardetto-Smith, A. M., Mu, K., Phelps, C. L., Hotuz, L. Development:
E. & Royen, C. B. Brains rule! Fun = learning = http://www.oecd.org/department/0,2688,en_2649_
Mats G. Hansson is at Uppsala University, neuroscience literacy. Neuroscientist 8, 396–404 (2002). 14935397_1_1_1_1_1,00.html
Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences 20. Grainger-Monsen, M. & Karetsky, K. in Neuroethics: Roboethics at Stanford University: http://roboethics.
Defining the Issues in Theory, Practice and Policy (ed. stanford.edu
(IFV), Uppsala Science Park, SE-751 85 Uppsala,
Illes, J.) 297–311 (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, in the The brain from top to bottom: http://www.thebrain.mcgill.ca
Sweden, and the Department of Learning, press). The brain from top to bottom (in French): http://www.
Informatics, Management and Ethics, Karolinska 21. Okuma, T. The present and future of sleep research in lecerveau.mcgill.ca
Institute, Sweden. Asia. Psychiatry Clin. Neurosci. 49, 91–97 (1995). Access to this interactive links box is free online.
982 | DECEMBER 2005 | VOLUME 6 www.nature.com/reviews/neuro