Electrodes in the brain: Some anthropological and ethical aspects of deep brain stimulation

International Review of Information Ethics 5 (9):33-39 (2006)
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Abstract

In the following text, medical, anthropological and ethical issues of deep brain stimulation, a medical technology in which electrodes implanted in the human brain electrically influence specified brain regions, will be discussed. After a brief account of the deep brain stimulation procedure and its chances and risks, anthropological and ethical aspects of the approach will be discussed. These relate to the reversibility of the procedure and to the patient’s capacity to control the effects it exerts in the brain, to modifications and fluctuations in a person’s character traits and individuality brought about by neurostimulation, and to the range of legitimate, adequate uses of the deep brain stimulation approach. The paper concludes that deep brain stimulation should be confined to therapeutic contexts and to severe, otherwise treatment-refractory disorders in which the aim is to normalize brain functioning. Apart from this, it should not be used to modify a person’s individual character traits and behaviour or to enhance human traits

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