In a world that is increasingly global – and increasingly engaged in neurosciences – how we educate scientists about the underlying values and ethics that drive brain research across cultural and continental divides is critical. The consequences of cultural misunderstandings are far from trivial for the scientific enterprise. Gaps in understanding lead to missed opportunities for collaboration to advance discoveries; limit our ability to broadly share results and reap benefits of findings; and result in a failure to recognize the unforeseen short- and long-term risks of research. As such, neuroethics has emerged as an essential tool for neuroscience serving in a horizon-scanning function to anticipate and address ethical roadblocks ahead and, ultimately, to advance and accelerate neuroscience.

The summit was held in Daegu, South Korea on October 17-18, 2017. With generous support from The Kavli Foundation and the Korea Brain Initiative, we convened representatives from the brain projects from around the globe as well as neuroethicists (who are either already embedded in those projects or neuroethicists from their home countries).

We now see the proliferation of national-level neuroscience research projects across the globe; some are already integrating neuroethics into the neurosciences. Yet no project has explicitly discussed cross-cultural perspectives in engaging these neuroethics and neuroscience questions and if they do address neuroethics, they tend to assume a Western bioethics approach.

The goal of the summit was to bring these experts together to create a universal list of neuroethics questions—critical concerns that arise at the intersection of human brain science and global societal ethics—that could be addressed across all brain projects. Importantly, that list should be adaptable and informed by the cultural values and frameworks of each country including and beyond relying on traditionally western philosophical values. This was a very different, yet important strategy for addressing the societal and ethical implications of emerging neuroscience and neurotechnologies. As neuroscience is now a global endeavor, neuroethics must be equally prepared to address global values.

Goals and Deliverables

  • Facilitate a community of multidisciplinary scholars who are attuned and inclusive to cross-cultural perspectives when engaging in neuroscience research and policy
  • Serve as an idea incubator for research collaborations and implementation
  • Generate a high-profile publication that sets neuroethics priorities for research and scholarship in global neuroscience projects
  • Create an online repository for global neuroethics discourse and education

If you would like to contact us, please send an email to Jamila Garrett-Bell at jrgarre@emory.edu or Sol Lee at sol.lee2@emory.edu.