Novel neurotechnologies: intervening in the brain


Published 24/06/2013

Neurotechnologies front cover
Brain scan

Technologies that intervene in the brain offer the potential to help those with conditions that affect the brain, such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, chronic pain and severe depression.

This report looks at the possible benefits and unintended consequences of intervening in the brain, and sets out an ethical framework to guide the practices of those involved in development, regulation, use and promotion of novel neurotechnologies.

The framework is based around two fundamental considerations: the need for medical interventions to treat brain conditions, and uncertainty about their benefits and risks. It suggests that the virtues of inventiveness, humility and responsibility capture the kinds of behaviours and attitudes that are most important in protecting and promoting the kinds of interests engaged by novel neurotechnologies.

Recommendations are made as to how this ethical approach might guide policy and practice in a number of areas including:

  • Care of patients and research participants
  • Responsible research and innovation
  • Regulation of medical technologies
  • Non-medical applications
  • Communication and the media