Final Brain in the News of 2018

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Photo from the December issue of Brain in the News. Image: Shutterstock

If you’re a subscribed reader of Brain in the News, you should have the final issue of the year in your mailbox by now (if you’re a loyal reader from outside of North America, please allow a couple extra days for delivery).

This year Brain in the News underwent a few changes, while maintaining the foundation of the publication as a trustworthy collection of news articles about the brain. We hope you enjoy the new layout as much as we do. It features a new “Bits and Pieces” section made up of facts and figures about the brain, neuroscience throughout history, top-rated brainy books, and our “honorable mentions” of internet news stories, “Brain on the Web.” The paper also includes a new “Stay Healthy” section, which highlights different wellness tips each issue and offers guidance on small things we can all do to protect our brains.

Another feature we are especially excited about is a new neuroethics column, written by former deputy editorial page editor of The New York Times Phil Boffey. Boffey, who also served as editor of Science Times, will continue delivering his monthly columns on different topics that analyze ethical dilemmas around brain-related news. You can read his latest column on the opioids crisis on the Dana website.

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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. See video of event, below.

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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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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