Bioethics Blogs

New Primer for Researchers on Neuroscience and Consent Capacity Now Available

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) has posted to Bioethics.gov a new educational primer: this primer provides researchers with information on neuroscience and consent capacity. The module accompanies the Bioethics Commission’s two-volume report Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society (Gray Matters, Vol. 1) and Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society (Gray Matters, Vol. 2).

The primer on neuroscience and consent capacity was designed to help researchers, especially those working in neuroscience, understand and implement the Bioethics Commission’s recommendations about responsibly including individuals with potentially impaired consent capacity in their studies. The primer will aid ethical decision making and help researchers consider and implement appropriate ethical safeguards throughout their work.

The primer consists of frequently asked questions, which help researchers understand whether they should include participants with impaired consent capacity in their studies, and how to do so ethically. It includes an explanation of the ethical considerations involved in enrolling such participants, catalogues relevant laws and regulations, and describes potential safeguards that could help protect participants. The primer directs researchers to the Gray Matters report for further in-depth reading about the topics covered in it.

In addition to this primer, other educational materials have been posted to accompany the Bioethics Commission’s work. Several other primers have been developed to accompany the Bioethics Commission’s 2014 report Anticipate and Communicate: Ethical Management of Incidental and Secondary Findings. The goal of the primer series is to provide concise, understandable materials for researchers, clinicians, and other health care professionals looking to implement some of the Bioethics Commission’s recommendations in particular contexts.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.