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Neuron. 2018 Oct 10;100(1):19-36. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.09.021.

Neuroethics Questions to Guide Ethical Research in the International Brain Initiatives.

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Center for Ethics Neuroethics Program, Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. Electronic address:
Korea Brain Research Institute, 61 Choeomdan-Ro, Dong-Gu, Daegu 41068, Korea.
Science and Technology Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 1138654, Japan.
Department of Research Infrastructure, Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Neuropsychiatry and The International Research Center for Neurointelligence (WPI-IRCN) at The University of Tokyo Institutes for Advanced Study (UTIAS), 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan.
Office of Scientific Liaison, Office of the Director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics, Human Brain Project, Ethics and Society Subproject, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.
Department of Psychiatry and Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Increasingly, national governments across the globe are prioritizing investments in neuroscience. Currently, seven active or in-development national-level brain research initiatives exist, spanning four continents. Engaging with the underlying values and ethical concerns that drive brain research across cultural and continental divides is critical to future research. Culture influences what kinds of science are supported and where science can be conducted through ethical frameworks and evaluations of risk. Neuroscientists and philosophers alike have found themselves together encountering perennial questions; these questions are engaged by the field of neuroethics, related to the nature of understanding the self and identity, the existence and meaning of free will, defining the role of reason in human behavior, and more. With this Perspective article, we aim to prioritize and advance to the foreground a list of neuroethics questions for neuroscientists operating in the context of these international brain initiatives.


Buddhism; Confucianism; brain projects; cross-cultural neuroethics; culture; global neuroscience; international brain initiative; neuroethics; responsible research innovation; science and society

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