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Functional Neuroimaging, Free Will, and Privacy

Functional Neuroimaging, Free Will, and Privacy
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Author(s): Nada Gligorov (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, USA) and Stephen C. Krieger (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, USA)
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 19
Source title: Healthcare and the Effect of Technology: Developments, Challenges and Advancements
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Stéfane M. Kabene (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Santé Publique, France)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-733-6.ch014


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Technological advances in neuroscience have made inroads on the localization of identifiable brain states, in some instances purporting the individuation of particular thoughts. Brain imaging technology has given rise to what seem to be novel ethical issues. This chapter will assess the current abilities and limitations of functional neuroimaging and examine its ethical implications. The authors argue that currently there are limitations of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and its ability to capture ongoing brain processes. They also examine the impact of neuroimaging on free will and privacy. The degree of variability of brain function precludes drawing meaningful conclusions about an individual’s thoughts solely from images of brain activity. The authors argue that neuroimaging does not raise novel challenges to privacy and free will, but is a recapitulation of traditional moral issues in a novel context.

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