Neuroscience and Neuroethics

Neuroscience is understood as the discipline that studies the nervous system and the brain from its function, operation, chemistry, cognition, and behavior using the scientific method of observation, experimentation, and hypothesis. Therefore, the role of neuroethics is to study, from a philosophical point of view, the implications that the discoveries and medical applications of this science have, as well as their interaction with legal and social issues. Neuroethics must examine how discoveries should be treated by doctors, judges, lawyers, and policymakers. An example of this is the determination of a person diagnosed with psychopathy, as this is a neurological condition that affects how they are processed criminally in case of a crime.

Biological modification

Modification of biological and genetic traits has been practiced by humans throughout history, ranging from simple physical modifications such as using ornaments on the skin and expansions, to modern physical modifications such as brain lobotomy, which sought to address neurological problems such as hysteria or depression. In modern times, drugs are also used to treat human behavior, seeking to modify the behavior of aggressive or depressed individuals.

The ethics surrounding biological and genetic modification is also affected by economic and social conditions. If a group is nomadic and food is scarce, the community may find it acceptable to abandon a weak or sick member and continue their journey. However, in a wealthy community with no external threats, it would be considered completely unacceptable to abandon a member. Recent studies have theorized that even a bacterial imbalance can affect an individual's behavior through the activity of neuroendocrine and neuroimmune stimuli that can even act bilaterally, affecting not only the individual but also their family and entire community.

Medical engineering and genetics

Exploring the future of biological and genetic modification, we find a great potential for modifying human behavior even before birth. Medical technology promises to be able to alter the development of the brain to eliminate potential genetic diseases. However, companies and individuals will seek to be more visionary, offering solutions to neuronal problems, aggressive or depressive behavior, or other tendencies, favoring certain values that a community prefers over others. This could begin an era of ethical engineering, not only of the mind but also of the future integration of brain-machine interfaces. It will be important to consider the potential dangers of agents having control over neurological modification, as authoritarian systems could control everything from brain chemistry to the genetics of their populations. The neuroethics of this field must address the ethical implications of what neurological modifications should be accepted or promoted, who should allow this, and who should permit their use.

In conclusion, neuroscience and neuroethics are intertwined disciplines that address the ethical challenges that arise in the application of scientific advances to the nervous system and the brain. Biological and genetic modification, as well as medical and technological engineering, have the potential to modify human behavior and the ethical truths that govern society. It is important for neuroethics to anticipate the ethical challenges posed by these advances, as their misuse can result in authoritarian control of human behavior. Therefore, it is essential to consider the ethical implications of neurological modification, the acceptance of these modifications, and who should permit their use. Neuroethics faces an increasingly significant challenge as we move towards the future, and it is necessary for experts to work together to ensure that these advances are used to improve human life ethically and fairly.


  • Roskies, A. (2002). Neuroethics for the new millenium. Neuron, 35(1), 21-23.
  • Fuenmayor, L. R. (2022). Bacterial Involvement in Neuropsychiatric Disorders: From Gut to Brain. Frontiers in neuroscience, 16, 631611.
  • Farah, M. J. (2017). An introduction to neuroethics. Cambridge University Press.
  • Gazzaniga, M. S., Ivry, R. B., & Mangun, G. R. (2014). Cognitive neuroscience: The biology of the mind. W.W. Norton & Company.
  • Illes, J. (2006). Neuroethics in a new era of neuroimaging. AJOB Neuroscience, 1(1), 3-8.
  • Juengst, E. T. (1998). What Does Enhancement Mean?. In Enhancing Human Traits (pp. 29-47). Georgetown University Press.

Translated from Spanish using GPT-3.5