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IEEE Neuroethics Framework for Brain-Computer Interfaces

Apr 4, 2024

CNTR researchers published on an international, multiyear, iterative initiative for BCI neuroethical considerations

Researchers, including CNTR faculty members, recently published research in the Journal of Neural Engineering on a neuroethical framework for ethical, legal, and sociocultural considerations for Brain-Computer Interfaces. 


Objective. Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are neuroprosthetic devices that allow for direct interaction between brains and machines. These types of neurotechnologies have recently experienced a strong drive in research and development, given, in part, that they promise to restore motor and communication abilities in individuals experiencing severe paralysis. While a rich literature analyzes the ethical, legal, and sociocultural implications (ELSCI) of these novel neurotechnologies, engineers, clinicians and BCI practitioners often do not have enough exposure to these topics. 

Approach. Here, we present the IEEE Neuroethics Framework, an international, multiyear, iterative initiative aimed at developing a robust, accessible set of considerations for diverse stakeholders. Main results. Using the framework, we provide practical examples of ELSCI considerations for BCI neurotechnologies. We focus on invasive technologies, and in particular, devices that are implanted intra-cortically for medical research applications. 

Significance. We demonstrate the utility of our framework in exposing a wide range of implications across different intra-cortical BCI technology modalities and conclude with recommendations on how to utilize this knowledge in the development and application of ethical guidelines for BCI neurotechnologies.

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