The Council has set up a new Working Party to consider the ethical issues raised by novel neurotechnologies that intervene in the brain such as deep brain stimulation, brain-computer interfaces and neuron replacement therapy.

This project aims to identify and explore the key ethical issues that are relevant to technologies at the early stages of translation from the laboratory to practical use.

The medical possibilities of such neurotechnologies are numerous. Researchers are working on treatments for neurological conditions that affect millions, for example: stroke, dementia, depression, epilepsy, addiction and migraine. In addition to clinical uses, there is significant interest in the development of non-medical applications of these neurotechnologies for sectors like the military or computer gaming. Whilst such applications are yet to be established on a wide scale, advancing research in this area is of growing public concern, given that intervention in the brain is involved; prompting questions that challenge widely-held notions of how and why we think and behave in the way we do.

The Working Party, chaired by Professor Thomas Baldwin from the University of York, will meet for the first time in November 2011 and a report is expected to be published in 2013.

Find out more about the Working Party on novel neurotechnologies.

Image of brain