On March 26 the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) released the second volume of its two-volume report on neuroscience and ethics, Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society (Gray Matters, Vol. 2), which takes an in-depth look at three topics that have captured the public’s attention: neural modification, including cognitive enhancement, consent capacity, and neuroscience and the legal system.
In Gray Matters, Vol. 2 the Bioethics Commission calls for research on several critical topics to help address unresolved empirical scientific and policy questions. Research requires support in the form of funding, personnel, and other resources. The Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, as a White House Grand Challenge, is well positioned to establish and support efforts to bring together multidisciplinary expertise to advance research and education at the intersection of neuroscience, ethics, and society. The Bioethics Commission recommended that:
The BRAIN Initiative should establish and fund organized, independent, multidisciplinary efforts to support neuroscience and ethics research and education, including the activities recommended in this report.
Organized, independent, multidisciplinary efforts would provide necessary infrastructure to address ethics integration, education, and research. They also should support the development and dissemination of educational tools including training materials and guidance, among others, for various audiences to facilitate informed public debate.
The Bioethics Commission acknowledged several examples of how such efforts could be structured, and encouraged the architects of the new BRAIN Initiative supported efforts to look to these examples to discern the best approach.
Gray Matters, Vol. 2 and all other Bioethics Commission reports are available at Bioethics.gov.