Brain simulation raises questions
[2014-10-22] What does it mean to simulate the human brain? Why is it important to do so? And is it even possible to simulate the brain separately from the body it exists in? These questions are discussed in a new paper published in the scientific journal Neuron today.
Simulating the brain means modeling it on a computer. But in real life, brains don’t exist in isolation. The brain is a complex and adaptive system that is seated within our bodies and entangled with all the other adaptive systems inside us that together make up a whole person. And the fact that the brain is a brain inside our bodies is something we can’t ignore when we attempt to simulate it realistically. Today, two Human Brain Project (HBP) researchers, Kathinka Evers, philosopher at the Centre for Research Ethics and Bioethics at Uppsala University and Yadin Dudai, neuroscientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, publish a paper in Neuron that discusses the questions raised by brain simulations within and beyond the EU flagship project HBP.For many scientists, understanding means being able to create a mental model that allows them to predict how a system would behave under different conditions. For the brain sciences, this type of understanding is currently only possible for a limited number of basic functions. In the article, Kathinka Evers and Yadin Dudal discuss the goal of simulation. In broad terms it has to do with understanding. But what does understanding mean in neuroscience? More
Research on patients with disorders of consciousness
[2014-10-13] There are a number of disorders of consciousness where patients are unable to communicate. There is a need for research on these patients to improve treatment and diagnosis. But since these patients don't talk in the common sense of the word, there are a number of ethical and legal problems attached to this research.
Michele Farisco, Kathinka Evers and Carlo Petrini recently published a paper where they discuss the ethical and legal dimensions of biomedical research on patients with disorders of consciousness. According to them, informed consent to experimental treatments is a particularly challenging issue for these patients: Both from an ethical and legal point of view.
If we are to improve care and the clinical conditions for these patients, we need research. But all research is not experimental medical research. Observational studies of non-communicative patients also raise the issue of informed consent. In the second part of the article, the authors present an informed consent form for studies through video-recording of patients who are unable to communicate their own consent. The form has been designed within a project on methods of behavioral analysis of individuals in coma or vegetative state run by the Italian National Institute of Health. More
Talking about death with dying children
[2014-10-09] Open and honest communication is important in palliative care, but what about families? When is the best time to talk to your child about dying? And how should you talk about death?
A group of researchers have studied how parents with children dying from cancer communicated with their child about death. The results show that the child, not the parent, was often the one who initiated conversations about death. Parents often used fairy tales as a theme for these talks. Regardless of how old the child was.
Li Jalmsell is one of the authors. She is a PhD Student at CRB but also a medical doctor and has worked with cancer patients for many years. According to her, there is of course a fear that too much focus on death could cause harm.
But, she says, our study suggests that there are some simple means that could help families talk about dying. More
Registration open! Epigenetics as the meeting point between nature and nurture
We welcome you to a multidisciplinary workshop on Epigenetics to explore the potential for multidisciplinary research initiatives
Sessions on the early development phase, nutrition, pharmacology, mental disorders and the social contexts
When: 19-20 March 2015, Uppsala, Sweden.
Where: Uppsala University main building
Speakers: Marco Boks, Eero Castren Jean-Pierre Changeux, Robert Erikson, Kathinka Evers, Mats G. Hansson, Christina Hultman, Eva Jablonka, Juha Kere, Hugo Lagercrantz, L.H. Lumey, Christopher Murgatroyd, Helen Neville, Gísli Pálsson, Elisabeth Radford, Bart Rutten, Dietmar Spengler, David St Clair and Denny Vågerö
Morally responsible risk communication
[2014-09-30] Risk communication has to be effective. But it also needs ethical legitimacy. This has become particularly clear after the Fukushima nuclear disaster when three of the reactors suffered meltdowns. But how can we meet these demands?
In an article that was recently published in the Journal of Risk Research, Jessica Nihlén Fahlquist and Sabine Roeser suggest a three-level framework for morally responsible risk communication: A legitimate procedure, an ethically justified risk message and evaluation of the effects of both message and procedure.
According to them, emotions also have an important part to play in risk communication. When it comes to addressing and explicating moral values, sympathy, empathy and feelings of responsibility have leading roles.
On October 7, Sabine Roeser will hold an open lecture on fear, care and hope: Moral emotions and risk analysis at Uppsala University. Welcome!
Read article in the Journal of Risk Research: Nuclear energy, responsible risk communication and moral emotions: a three level framework
ETHICS BLOG: The Ethics Blog soon book
[2014-10-15] As you may have noticed, I have for some time not posted quite as often as before. That is because I’m right now compiling previous posts, turning the Ethics Blog into a book.
I thought it would go quickly to make a blog book. But it takes time to choose appropriate texts and arrange them around different themes. And then edit the texts so they are nice to read in printed form.
Actually, I’m working on two books. There is a Swedish version of the Ethics Blog: “Etikbloggen” (link in the right margin). The text for the English book was sent to a graphic designer just a while ago. It will be exciting to see the results!
Both books will be printed in December. Hopefully we can also make them available in PDF format.