NERRI, Neuroenhancement Responsible Research and Innovation, is a project that lasts 3 years (2013-15), funded by the European Commission in the 7th Framework Programme. The project, which has just begun its journey in a first meeting in Cascais (Portugal), intends to apply the concept of RRI “responsible research and innovation” to a very new field of research on which high expectations are deposited but that also generates much debate: the so-called neuroenhancement.
Neuroenhancement focuses on finding treatments and applications coming to improve human mental abilities. The aspect that makes this research area so unique and particularly delicate is that its goal is not just treating disease, but also getting to improve cognitive abilities of healthy people. For example, a tablet that improves mental concentration and so far is only indicated in patients with attention disorders, could be given to certain people with special concentration needs? Other examples in experimental phase are “deep brain stimulation” (DBS, Deep Brain Stimulation, used today for Parkinson, among other diseases), “transcranial magnetic stimulation”, etc.. And in a further theoretical plane, nerve tissue engineering, stimulation of neurons, drug vectorization, etc.
Nerri Project wants to ensure that science and society are heard and move forward together in a field that can have great applications but, in turn, raises many ethical and social issues. It is in these early stages of research in which actions of scientific communication and RRI are necessary to guarantee an adequate evolution of technologies.
The project is lead by Ciencia Viva, the main Portuguese network of scientific communication, and involves 18 organizations belonging to 10 different countries. Among them, are grouped both institutions working in the field of neuroscience and communication, sociology, ethics, law, etc.. Gema Revuelta, deputy director of the Science Communication Observatory at Pompeu Fabra University (OCC-UPF), and professor in the Department of Communication at the university, will lead the activities carried out by this project in Spain. The other participating countries are UK, Netherlands, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Hungary, Germany, Iceland and Belgium. In addition, in the project are represented some major European research networks in neuroscience.
In a few weeks, the project will have a website and a social profiles available. Until then, more information can be found at: www.cienciaviva.pt/projinternacionais/nerri/index.asp?accao=changelang&lang=en
Science Communication Observatory also participates in the following European projects:
- PLACES, Platform of Local Authorities and Communicators Engaged in Science