The Ethics of the New Brain Science

Kathryn Schulz in The Nation:

Brain_art_final… while genetics has spawned a robust watchdog industry, complete with academic departments, annual conferences and dedicated funding, neuroscience currently receives far less scrutiny.

Ultimately, though, neuroscience may raise even more troubling ethical issues, for the simple reason that it is easier to predict and control behavior by manipulating neurons than by manipulating genes. Even if all ethical and practical constraints on altering our DNA vanished tomorrow, we’d have to wait for years (or decades) to see the outcome of genetic experiments–and all the while environmental factors would confound our tinkering. Intervening on the brain, by contrast, can produce startlingly rapid results, as anyone knows who has ever downed too many margaritas or, for that matter, too many chocolate-covered coffee beans.

More here.