The moral principles and standards governing the scanning, treatment, and enhancement of the brain. Also: neuro-ethics.
Welcome to the exploding new field of neuroethics, the study of the ethical and philosophical dilemmas provoked by advances in brain science. It's only since a seminal conference in 2002 that the field has even existed; shortly thereafter, Penn and Stanford founded the first academic centers for neuroethics in the country. Last year a multidisciplinary group—including philosophers, lawyers and psychologists—created the neuroethics Society to explore the issues in a formal way.
Just in time. As brain science becomes increasingly sophisticated, the moral and legal quandaries it poses threaten to proliferate into every part of our lives. ... Even in their current state, brain scans may be able to reveal, without our consent, hidden things about who we are and what we think and feel. ... Before such scans are used, neuroethicists warn, we must understand what they can and cannot do.
—Francine Russo, "Who Should Read Your Mind?," Time, January 29, 2007
With incredible advances in neuroscience, especially neurotechnology, many things factored into making the timing right for neuroethics. For example, with new imaging technologies researchers are able to conduct experiments that have the potential to predict behavior, consciousness and pathology. These types of experiments raise ethical concerns about how to handle the sensitive data and how much individuals want to know — or want other people to know — about their mental state. For example, what if a scan revealed that a person has a tendency toward aggression or addiction? As the research moves closer to revealing these types of traits it became important for the entire field to consider the ethical implications of the work.
—Judy Illes, "Stanford Q&A: Neuroethicist on Growing Demand for Ethical Oversight," Business Wire, February 18, 2006
Disclosure: When not vituperating for a living, I head a foundation that supports research in brain science, neuro-immunology and immuno-imaging. We're exploring studies in neuro-ethics, surely a growing field.)
—William Safire, "Stem Cell Hard Sell," The New York Times, July 5, 2001