Tomorrow’s World Today: The 2016 International Neuroethics Society Meeting

Guest blog by Moheb Costandi.

am16-square-regearlyIn November, some of the world’s leading bioethicists and neuroscientists will convene in San Diego for the annual meeting of the International Neuroethics Society (INS).

The 2016 meeting marks the tenth anniversary of the INS. In that time, we have seen unprecedented advances in neuroscience and, consequently, a plethora of new technologies developed to further our understanding of the brain, and to fix it when it goes wrong, have emerged.

Even so, our understanding of this complex organ is far from complete. We still know very little about the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, for example, and it is widely believed that the incidence of this debilitating neurodegenerative condition will reach epidemic proportions in the years to come. Similarly, the global burden of mental health issues is expected to grow, and has been projected to affect 15% of the world’s population by the year 2020–disabling more people than AIDS, heart disease, traffic accidents, and wars combined.

Faced with these grim prospects, the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, and other countries have launched, or are set to launch, national large-scale neuroscience initiatives. Leading figures from some of these initiatives will discuss their country’s brain research efforts and the ethical issues they raise in a panel discussion and breakout sessions at the INS meeting.

In other panels, expert speakers will discuss the potential benefits and harms of using deep brain stimulation to treat depression, as seen from patients’ perspective, and how advances in our understanding of the brain are beginning change our notion of self identity.

The meeting will begin on Thursday, November 10, with the Fred Kavli Distinguished Neuroethics Lecture by Steven Hyman, founding president of the INS and, as always, it also includes a public event, which this year will explore the ethics of emerging neurotechnologies, with a special focus on how such technologies might affect children.

Public interest in how brain science might affect our daily lives is growing enormously, and each year the INS receives more positive feedback about its annual meeting from attendees. The 2016 meeting will, therefore, last one-and-a-half days instead of just one, as in previous years, to reflect this.

Registration for the meeting is now open, and is available at a discount until September 30. Registration includes breakfast, lunch, and a reception during the evening poster session. Any queries about the meeting or registration should be directed at INS Executive Director Karen Graham.

Disclaimer: Moheb Costandi serves on the Board of Directors of the International Neuroethics Society.

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