LONDON - Britain's Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which examines ethical issues raised by new developments in biology and medicine, launched a consultation on March 1 on the ethics of new technologies and devices that intervene in the human brain.
The three main areas of the group's focus are brain-computer interfaces, neurostimulation and neural stem cell therapy.
Here are some details about each area of research and how it is being explored.
Brain computer interfaces (BCIs)
BCIs measure and analyse a person's brain signals and convert them into an output such as movement.
A paralysed person, for example, could use a BCI to operate a wheelchair, or someone who has extreme difficulty speaking could use a BCI to communicate via a computer voice.
These sorts of applications have been shown to be successful in a few reported cases, but the technology has not yet been developed for regular clinical use and there are questions over whether these technologies are reliable enough for use in everyday life.
“Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.” Buddha[/color][/i]