Neuroimaging research with children: ethical issues and case scenarios

Journal of Moral Education 36 (1):1-18 (2007)
Abstract
There are few available resources for learning and teaching about ethical issues in neuroimaging research with children, who constitute a special and vulnerable population. Here, a brief review of ethical issues in developmental research, situated within the emerging field of neuroethics, highlights the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of research with children. Traditional boundaries between behavioural, psychological, neuroscientific and educational research are being blurred by multidisciplinary studies of learning and human development. Developmental and educational researchers need to be aware of the ethical quandaries inherent in such research, and moral educators need to encourage researchers to consider the ethical aspects of developmental neuroimaging. To this end, fictional case scenarios were designed to address two topics in the ethical conduct of neuroimaging research with children: inadvertent findings in paediatric neuroimaging and inclusion of young children in pharmacological clinical trials. The latter is contrasted with an educational trial in an alternate scenario, underscoring similarities in ethical issues across types of developmental research. It is hoped that discussions elicited by such scenarios will contribute to both moral education and paediatric neuroethics
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