Brain Matters 3 follows in the tradition of two previous Brain Matters conferences in fostering further development in the field of NeuroEthics. Primary themes of the this conference’s plenary talks include ethical dilemmas in the treatment and research for conditions with neurological symptomatology but that are without identifiable biological correlates/causes. The conditions of interest are often framed as medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), non-specific etiologies (NoS), or purely psychological. These diagnoses include, but are not limited to: chronic pain disorders, psychogenic movement disorders, conversion disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia. The complexities of suffering and disability experienced by individuals with these conditions are significant; including exposure to dangerous and futile treatments. Among clinicians, disagreement continues over which aspects of these conditions are “all in one’s head,” either literally or figuratively. Hidden value assumptions about causation permeate research studies and clinical decisions, and effect underlying treatment and care of patients. These assumptions have significant influence on the obligations, roles, and entitlements for patients and health care providers. Patients who suffer from these conditions are “orphaned” by specialties and largely ignored in bioethics discussions. Complementing these plenary themes are a diversity of presentations on other neuroethical clinical and research issues.
Special Non-Epileptic Seizure Track:
Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) constitute a major unaddressed challenge to our healthcare system. On average, these patients carry an epilepsy misdiagnosis for seven years prior to being identified as PNES and are exposed to high levels of anti-epileptic medications during this period. Given that Brain Matters 3 overlaps with the 21st International Epilepsy Symposium, a dedicated PNES ethics sub-theme is offered on Day 1 of Brain Matters 3 to take advantage of the “crossover audience”.