Historical and ethical perspectives of modern neuroimaging

Fernando Vidal

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4 Citations (Scopus)


© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015. Both in its development and in the definition of its tasks, neuroethics has been intimately connected to neuroimaging, especially to the widespread application of functional brain imaging technologies such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Neuroimaging itself, in particular its uses, interpretation, communication, media presence, and public understanding, has been one of neuroethics’ primordial subjects. Moreover, key neuroethical issues, such as brain privacy or the conceptualization of blame, responsibility, and in general human personhood, have largely gained from neuroimaging the form under which neuroethics deals with them. The use of neuroimaging techniques to investigate phenomena usually associated with research in the humanities and human sciences brought those phenomena into the orbit of neurobiological explanation. Neuroethics emerged in the context of such technology-driven intellectual and professional developments. Thus, more than an important stimulus for the development of neuroethics or a particular source of neuroethical challenges, the spread of functional neuroimaging can be considered as a condition of possibility of the field. In return, neuroethics supports the claim that the neurosciences, in particular by way of functional neuroimaging, will revolutionize “traditional” ways of understanding the human. To the extent that such a claim is debatable, neuroethics might benefit from examining its special relationship to neuroimaging.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Neuroethics
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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