What’s special about the ethical challenges of studying disorders with altered brain activity?

Cassaday, Helen J. (2014) What’s special about the ethical challenges of studying disorders with altered brain activity? In: Ethical issues in behavioral neuroscience. Current topics in behavioral neuroscience (19). Springer-Verlag, Berlin. ISBN 9783662448656

[img] PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (334kB)


Where there is no viable alternative, studies of neuronal activity are conducted on animals. The use of animals, particularly for invasive studies of the brain, raises a number of ethical issues. Practical or normative ethics are enforced by legislation, in relation to the dominant welfare guidelines developed in the UK and elsewhere. Guidelines have typically been devised to cover all areas of biomedical research using animals in general, and thus lack any specific focus on neuroscience studies at the level of the ethics, although details of the specific welfare recommendations are different for invasive studies of the brain. Ethically there is no necessary distinction between neuroscience and other biomedical research in that the brain is a final common path for suffering, irrespective of whether this involves any direct experience of pain. One exception arises in the case of in vitro studies, which are normally considered as an acceptable replacement for in vivo studies. However, to the extent sentience is possible, maintaining central nervous system tissue outside the body naturally raises ethical questions. Perhaps the most intractable challenge to the ethical use of animals in order to model neuronal disorder is presented by the logical impasse in the argument that the animal is similar enough to justify the validity of the experimental model, but sufficiently different in sentience and capacity for suffering, for the necessary experimental procedures to be permissible.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/7854_2014_333
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1007/7854_2014_333
Depositing User: Cassaday, Dr HJ
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2014 16:43
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2016 08:42
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/3600

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View