For Researchers: Neuroscience and Consent Capacity

In March 2015, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) released its report, Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society (Gray Matters, Vol. 2). By exploring three controversial topics in neuroscience and ethics, including capacity and the consent process, the Bioethics Commission sought to clarify for the public the scientific landscape, identify common ground for productive discourse, and recommend an ethical path forward to support neuroscience’s progress. Although potential participants in a broad scope of research can have impaired consent capacity, challenges surrounding consent capacity are especially pronounced in neuroscience research. Neuroscience research often seeks to understand and ameliorate the very disorders and conditions that can be associated with impaired consent capacity. It also can help us better understand the nature of capacity itself.

This primer was designed to help researchers, especially those who conduct neuroscience research, understand and implement the Bioethics Commission’s recommendations about responsibly including individuals with potentially impaired consent capacity in research. Researchers can use it to aid ethical decision making and ensure that they have considered and implemented appropriate ethical safeguards. Please see Chapter 3 of Gray Matters, Vol. 2, for further reading on the Bioethics Commission’s analysis of this topic.

Download Primer here

Listen to "Episode 5: Gray Matters", an episode of Ethically Sounda podcast of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

Ethically Sound Episodes

The Bioethics Commission has launched a new podcast series entitled Ethically Sound.  

Each podcast is playable direct online from the link(s) below or from SoundCloud, iTunes or the Ethically Sound Playlist on Youtube.  Follow the hashtag #EthicallySound for launch announcements.

Safeguarding Children

Ethics and Ebola

Anticipate and Communicate

Privacy & Progress

Gray Matters

New Directions

Moral Science

Ethically Impossible

Bioethics for Every Generation

Charting a Path Forward

This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. Foreign copyrights may apply.