The Neuroethics of Advertising

When you hear the term “neuromarketing,” do you envision corporate mind control directing you to purchase products? You are not alone. The good news is, no mind-controlling “buy button” exists. The bad news is, as neuroscience areas such as decision-making and reward processing advance, and our personal data accumulates online, there’s no guarantee it will never exist in the future. But this is exactly why it’s important to discuss topics such as this now in an ethical context.

High interest during INS annual meeting public lecture.

At the International Neuroethics Society (INS) annual meeting public program in San Diego Thursday night, neuroscientists employed by the marketplace and academia spoke about neuromarketing, or consumer neuroscience, as it stands, how it may evolve, and the ethical implications that need to be considered alongside this emerging field.

Panelist Carl Marci, chief neuroscientist of Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience at Nielsen Company, the largest market research company in the world, quickly dismissed the notion that market research can override free will through manipulation. What it does do, he said, is offer tools to help companies better understand how to engage consumers with marketing that emotionally affects them and sticks in their memory. Continue reading

Does DBS Cause Changes in Personality?

Since 2002, deep brain stimulation (DBS), the surgical implantation of a pacemaker-like device that sends electrical impulses to targeted parts of the brain, has been used as a treatment for motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). But are patients trading part of their sense of self in exchange for improved mobility?

Packed house for INS annual meeting talk on DBS.

In the last decade, a growing number of published articles have raised the concern of personality changes in PD patients as a result of DBS, and tried to discern if the concern is real or overblown. At Thursday’s International Neuroethics Society (INS) meeting discussion “DBS: Continuity of Self,” panelists aimed to add clarity to the debate. “Speculation shouldn’t be divorced from clinical reality,” said panel moderator and ethicist Hannah Maslen, who introduced the session.

The speakers, philosopher and neuroethicist Frederic Gilbert, neuropsychologist Cynthia Kubu, behavioral neurologist Winston Chiong, and ethics researcher Jonathan Pugh, offered a range of perspectives. They largely focused on the state of the evidence and why it’s so difficult to assess personality changes in patients.

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Neuroscientists Heading to San Diego This Week – and So Are We

We’re heading off to attend the Society for Neuroscience’s Annual Meeting, Neuroscience 2018, which starts on Saturday in San Diego. More than 30,000 neuroscientists and their friends will converge on the San Diego Convention Center–a city’s worth of brain-lovers! Before SfN’s official start, we’ll also be taking in the annual meeting of the International Neuroethics Society (INS), held at the San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Boulevard. Stay tuned for posts and photos and more from both events.

Here’s some of what we’re looking forward to. **NOTE: If you’re nearby, three of the events I’ve listed (the ones with boldface type) are free and open to the public—come by and say hi! **

Thursday, Nov. 1

ins horizontalWe’ll be at the whole day of INS events at San Diego Central Library, with topics including digitally decoding brain and behavior, managing neuroinformation to protect identity, and deep brain stimulation and sense of self. Follow along via Twitter hashtags #neuroethics and  #INS2018.

5:30 pm to 7 pm (Pacific time): “My Brain Made Me Buy It: The Neuroethics of Advertising,” a public forum opened by Carl Marci, who will describe how advertising techniques based on big data are challenging social and ethical boundaries. Then he’ll join researchers Read Montague, Uma Karmarker, and Steve Hyman in deeper discussion. Come on by if you’re in the area: This event, part of the INS meeting at San Diego Central Library, is free, but please register. (There will be a short reception afterward.) Continue reading

Technology and Addiction Take Center Stage at Neuroethics Meeting

Guest blog by Moheb Costandi.

ins horizontalRapid technological advances are improving not only our understanding of how the brain works, but also our ability to manipulate it and make inferences about peoples’ behavior.

Such advances should ultimately be of huge benefit to society. They also raise various concerns, regarding privacy and identity in particular; and in a month’s time, some of the world’s leading bioethicists will convene in San Diego for the Annual Meeting of the International Neuroethics Society (INS) to discuss these issues.

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A Guide to Pursuing a Neuroscience Career

The Dana Foundation promotes a lot of resources designed for young students in hopes of inspiring them to want to learn more about the brain as they move up the ranks of grade school. But what if you’ve already been inspired and are now looking for practical ways to prepare for a neuroscience career? While there is certainly no “one way” to achieve this, we want to share a few resources that can help point you in the right direction.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) recently published an article on BrainFacts.org (a great resource in itself) with tips for students on how to jumpstart a career in neuroscience. Here are just a few points mentioned:

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