An international team of researchers has revealed the views held by the citizens of Europe and the United States on the hypothetical use of “neuroenhancement” techniques among academics and professionals. The term “neuroenhancement” refers to the application, in healthy people, of a technique or substance to improve a strategic cognitive ability, such as memory, concentration, calculation, etc. The use of these technologies is not usually questioned when applied in the treatment of diseases. The difference this research contributes is that what it explores is what the general population thinks about its use and research in healthy people. (more…)
The Studies Center on Science, Communication and Society from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (SCS-UPF) has started a working group in the framework of the NERRI project to focus on the neuro-enhancement (NE) applied to minors. The initiative was presented during the Consortium Meeting of the project in Rome on June 22nd and 23rd, where all members had the chance to speak their minds on the idea and contribute with their experience. From now on and until the end of August, NERRI partners will share the data related to the topic of “NE in Minors” collected during their local events. Two of these members have already joined the initiative: Experimentarium (Denmark) and IBMC (Portugal). However, the group is still open for any other partner to join!
The initiative was born when the first MML activities showed that there was the need to further study NE specifically applied to minors. This group deserves a special consideration because of two main reasons: firstly, because the plasticity of their brain is the highest it will get in life (and thus, the impact of NE can be the greatest); and secondly, because they depend on adults and have a limited freedom of choice. Moreover, one of the project reports (D3.3) showed that many people thought that minors should be protected from the harmful effects of NE through an institutional regulation, and it is also important to bear in mind the social pressure experienced by some minors in our increasingly competitive society.
The working group “NE in Minors” wants to write a final report to reflect on the experience, which could be presented and discussed in the final Consortium Meeting of NERRI –or even sent to international conferences related to the topic (for example, conferences on ethics, neurology, education).
[This article is based on the NERRI Newsletter contribution on July 2015 from SCS-UPF]
The European project NERRI (Neuro-Enhancement Responsible Research and Innovation), in which Universitat Pompeu Fabra is one of the members through the Science, Communication and Society Studies Centre (SCS-UPF), is meeting next 22nd and 23rd of June in Rome. A recapitulation of all the activities organized by partners will be done, and the next steps towards the end of the project will be defined.
In Barcelona, three activities have been organized in the framework of the NERRI project since last November: a focus group with biomedical research staff and medical students, a Play Decide in the Science, Technology and Innovation festival NOVUM, and a Play Decide with the students of the masters’ programme on Science, Medical and Environmental Communication (UPF-IDEC). These three experiences, together with their respective evaluations, are of great interest for the project since they help understand the perception that different social group have towards neuro-enhancement. Moreover, the NERRI project was presented in the PACITA conference on technology assessment, together with other NERRI members from the UK, Austria and Germany.
Furthermore, the Twitter account @nerrispain has been operational since February 2015. Through this portal, information related to the project and interesting links on neuro-enhancement are shared.
Internationally, the NERRI consortium is composed of 18 institutions from 11 different countries. Some of the activities undertaken during these months include the First European Brain Council Board Meeting in Brussels, the brain hackathon “Hack the Brain” in London, a NERRI World Café on neuro-technology and society in Enschede (The Netherlands), or the workshop “Shaking the brain: cognitive enhancement” in Lisbon.
The NERRI project is a three-year initiative funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme. The project applies the concept of RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation) to the field of neuro-enhancement. This discipline studies how to improve individual cognitive abilities with the use of technologies, methods or substances. There are two kinds of neuro-enhancement: therapeutic (addressed to people that suffer from a disease and want to improve their health), and non-therapeutic (used by healthy people that want to improve their cognitive abilities). That is, someone who suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and takes a medicine to treat it (like modafinil), is an example of therapeutic neuro-enhancement. A case of non-therapeutic neuro-enhancement would be a healthy individual takes that same medicine in order to focus more and study better for an exam. The NERRI project wants to know what do people think about neuro-enhancement and prepare a set of recommendations addressing the future regulation in the field.
On February the 25th, 26th and 27th has taken place in Berlin the second edition of the PACITA conference on technology assessment in Europe. During three intensive days of speeches and parallel sessions, participants from all over the world have shared their visions on political decision making regarding the implantation and approval of new technologies.
Los días 25, 26 y 27 de febrero ha tenido lugar en Berlín la segunda edición de la conferencia PACITA sobre la evaluación de la tecnología (“technology assessment” en inglés) en Europa. Durante tres días intensos de sesiones y charlas paralelas, participantes de todo el mundo han podido compartir visiones sobre la toma de decisiones a nivel político relacionadas con la implantación y la aprobación de nuevas tecnologías.