The Neuroethics Seminar Series is designed to explore a diverse range of subjects at the intersection of neuroscience and ethics. In a typical seminar, three expert discussants will come together to explore a topic. In the 90-minute seminar, at least 30 minutes are reserved for discussion and audience participation.

The Center for Bioethics hosts the Neuroethics Seminar Series approximately 9 times each year, with financial support from Harvard's Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, and the Harvard Brain Initiative Collaborative Seed Grant Program. In addition, the International Neuroethics Society makes it possible to live stream the Seminars, and video is archived and available below.


Even in the US, some controversy persists over the conceptual defensibility of brain death. Around the world, the philosophical defensibility of brain death is even more debatable. 

ALS neuroethics lecture

Patients with ALS have a uniformly fatal disease, and one might worry that ALS patients are even more prone to the therapeutic misconception. In this video, panelists discuss evidence for therapeutic misconception in ALS trials.

Neurologists who treat epilepsy face substantial difficulty distinguishing "true" seizures caused by abnormal electrical discharges from seizures that are caused by psychological factors (psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, or PNES).

Michele Bratcher Goodwin

Connecting the human brain to a computer is no longer science fiction. Patients unable to control their bodies will soon be able to control computers and external devices, like wheelchairs, using only mental processes, by means of a brain-computer interface. A Neuroethics Seminar Series Event with Philipp Kellmeyer and Leigh Hochberg

 

Panelists discuss the ethics of presumed (or "emergency", or "implied") consent in the context of caring for patients with acute stroke. A Neuroethics Seminar Series Event with Winston Chiong, Lee Schwamm, and Jolion McGreevy

Should the FDA regulate the sale of these devices? Should use of brain stimulation to enhance performance in gaming and recreation be prohibited, discouraged, encouraged, or required? Should a physician's prescription be required? Watch our panel discuss the science, ethics, and regulation of do-it-yourself brain stimulation and other forms of cognitive enhancement.

What are the implications of detecting consciousness in someone who looks and acts unconscious? Can and should this information be used to treat patients and manage expectations of caregivers? If so, how? The use of technology to detect consciousness raises a host of questions not only pertinent to medicine and science, but also to law, philosophy, ethics and beyond – questions at the heart of what it means to be conscious, and to recognize consciousness in others.

Since alterations in the brain have the potential to alter cognition, personality, and even the sense of self, do surgical innovations require special ethical consideration? Should "invasiveness" matter ethically, or do we simply weigh risks against benefits?  Should we have distinct policy or regulation regarding neurosurgical innovation? Do patients contemplating such innovations require special protections?

Does Brain Difference Affect Legal and Moral Responsibility?

Brains create behavior. Yet we hold people, not brains, morally and legally responsible for their actions. Under what conditions could -- or should -- brain disorder affect the ways in which we assign moral and legal responsibility to a person?

The prospect of using noninvasive brain stimulation for neuroenhancement in healthy individuals generates a host of ethical questions: What constitutes normal versus impaired ability? Which neurological functions can be ethically improved, and which, if any, should remain unchanged?