New Therapies, Old Problems, or, a Plea for Neuromodesty
University of Pennsylvania Law School
American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, Vol. 3, No. 1, p. 60, 2012
U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 12-09
This article suggests that investigational deep brain stimulation (DBS) for mental disorders raises few new bioethical issues. Although the scientific basis of the procedure may be both complex and largely unknown, addressing informed consent in such situations is a familiar problem. After reviewing the legal and moral background for investigating DBS and the scientific difficulties DBS faces as a potential treatment for mental disorders, the article focuses on informed consent and makes two primary suggestions. The study of DBS may proceed, but "hyper-disclosure" of the complexities should be required for competent subjects or proper surrogates if the candidate is not competent, and the most rigorous standard for competence should be employed. Throughout, neuromodesty and caution are urged.
Keywords: bioethics, deep-brain stimulation, informed consent, neuroethics, neurological and psychiatric disorders, psychosurgery
Date posted: February 10, 2012