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Ethics, Neuroimaging and Disorders of Consciousness: What Is the Question?
Martin M. Monti

Antoine de Saint-Exupery once wrote that “the machine” plunges man deeply into the great problems of nature. While he was reflecting over the technology of flight, in this issue of AJOB Neuroscience, two contributions focus on the extent to which brain imaging technologies are plunging us deeply into the study of mental life after severe brain injury, and the ethical implications of this new...

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Target Article

Assessing Decision-Making Capacity in the Behaviorally Nonresponsive Patient With Residual Covert Awareness
Andrew Peterson, Lorina Naci, Charles Weijer, Damian Cruse, Davinia Fernández-Espejo, Mackenzie Graham & Adrian M. Owen

Recent neuroscientific findings suggest that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)-based brain–computer interfaces may be a viable strategy for detecting covert awareness in patients clinically diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. This research may open a promising new avenue for developing neuroimaging techniques that provide prognostic and diagnostic information that complements cu...

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Conscientious of the Conscious: Interactive Capacity as a Threshold Marker for Consciousness
David B. Fischer & Robert D. Truog

Along with their potential benefits, recent technological advances in neuroimaging and electroencephalographic assessment of brain-injured patients have brought to light uncertainty in diagnosing disorders of consciousness. Such technologies highlight the difficulty in determining the presence or absence of consciousness, and in particular the distinction between the minimally conscious state (MCS...

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Autonomy in Neuroethics: Political and Not Metaphysical
Veljko Dubljević

This article examines and refutes the claims that neuroscientific evidence renders autonomy “quixotic” and thus supports a shift toward paternalism in medical and political decision-making. The author argues that the notion of autonomy has been mistakenly associated with the metaphysical concept of free will, and offers a political definition of autonomy to clarify how responsibility is implic...

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