Bioethics Blogs

Ethically Sound Episode 5: Gray Matters

The fifth episode of the Bioethics Commission’s podcast series Ethically Sound, “Gray Matters,” is now available. The Bioethics Commission has released 10 reports on a variety of ethically challenging topics. Ethical issues in neuroscience were the focus of the reports Gray Matters: Integrative Approaches for Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society (Volume 1), and Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society (Volume 2).

The two Gray Matters reports responded to a charge from President Barack Obama, in conjunction with the announcement of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, a White House Grand Challenge. President Obama asked the Commission to “consider the potential implications of the discoveries that we expect will flow from studies of the brain.” In Gray Matters Volume 1, the Bioethics Commission recommended early and explicit integration of ethics into neuroscience research. In Gray Matters Volume 2, the Commission focused on three “cauldrons of controversy” in neuroscience: cognitive enhancement, research involving participants with impaired consent capacity, and the use of neuroscience in the legal system.

This episode of Ethically Sound opens with a narrative from Dr. Stephen Morse, Associate Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Morse discussed a case where neuroscience was used as the basis of an insanity defense in a murder trial, as the defendant had a cyst in his left frontal lobe that the defendant’s legal counsel argued had impaired his judgment. When discussing the two positions taken by the prosecution and the defense, Dr.

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.