Review Article

Neuroethics: history and relevance

Shashivadhanan Sundaravadhanan

Department of Neurosurgery, Command Hospital Air Force, Bangalore, Karnataka, India


The brain holds a special status as the core of our selfhood and autonomy. Manipulating the function of the brain is fundamentally different from manipulating the function of other organs like the heart or the kidney and raises several distinct ethical issues. Progress in neuroscience is rapidly increasing about neural correlates of the mind. New ethical issues are arising as neuroscience gives us unprecedented ways to understand the human mind and to predict, influence and even control it. Neuroethics encompasses two broad areas. One is fundamental neuroethics also called the neurosciences of ethics and the other is applied neuroethics, which is called the ethics of neurosciences. Analysis of the current body of literature reveals that brain research is presently focusing on neuroimaging, neuropharmacology, neurogenetics and neurotechnology. All these novel technologies are dual-use, making them very prone to abuse. Neuroethics is the term coined to tackle problems resulting from brain research, whether fundamental or applied.
The progress in neurosciences continues in such a breakneck speed that it calls for an urgent requirement to embrace this field which is very essential to channelize brain research. Duty of neuroethics is not only to protect the society from neurosciences abuse but also guard the neuroscientists from society's criticism. World over there has been a technological explosion making it difficult for the physician to keep pace with evolving trends in neurosciences.
This paper attempts to trace the birth and evolution of neuroethics. An attempt has been made to classify the areas which it encompasses, define its current status and pre

Keywords: ethics, magnetic resonance imaging, neurology, neurosurgery