Neuroethics:1-12 (forthcoming)

Fred Gilbert
University of Tasmania
To conclude that there is enough or not enough evidence demonstrating that deep brain stimulation causes unintended postoperative personality changes is an epistemic problem that should be answered on the basis of established, replicable, and valid data. If prospective DBS recipients delay or refuse to be implanted because they are afraid of suffering from personality changes following DBS, and their fears are based on unsubstantiated claims made in the neuroethics literature, then researchers making these claims bear great responsibility for prospective recipients' medical decisions and subsequent well-being. Our article “Deflating the ‘DBS causes personality’ bubble” reported an increase in theoretical neuroethics publications suggesting putative DBS-induced changes to personality, identity, agency, autonomy, authenticity and/or self and a critical lack of supporting primary empirical studies. This special issue of Neuroethics brings together responses to our initial publication, with our own counter-responses organized according to common themes. We provide a brief summary for each commentary and its main criticisms as well as a discussion of the way in which these responses can: 1) help clarify the meaning of PIAAAS, suggesting supplementary frameworks for understanding the impact of DBS on PIAAAS; 2) provide further empirical evidence of PIAAAS by presenting results from the researchers’ own work; and/or 3) offer a critique of our research approach and/or findings. Unintended postoperative putative changes to PIAAAS remain a critical ethical concern. It is beyond dispute that we need to develop reliable empirical and conceptual instruments able to measure complex cognitive, affective, and behavioural changes in order to investigate whether they are attributable to DBS alone.
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DOI 10.1007/s12152-020-09437-5
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