Webcast: brain science and social responsibility. Join the conversation.

logo2 no bgOur team at the National Core for Neuroethics has been hard at work preparing for the upcoming Brain Matters! Vancouver conference happening this week in beautiful Vancouver, BC.
We almost didn’t notice when something wonderful happened: our Wednesday night public event, “Mapping International Research: Big Data, Big Ethics?”, sold out!
That said, you can still participate in this important conversation by tuning in to the webcast and joining the discussion on Twitter (#AskBrainMatters).
See below, and visit our website www.brainmattersvancouver.ca, for more information!
Mapping International Research: Big Data, Big Ethics?
Keynote Lecture by: Dr. Bartha Knoppers, Professor, McGill UniversityFollowed by a Panel Discussion featuring:
Dr. Wylie Burke, Professor, University of Washington
Dr. Daniel Goldowitz, Professor, University of British Columbia
Dr. Christopher Scott, Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University
and Moderator, Kathryn Gretsinger, Former CBC Radio Host / Instructor, UBC Graduate School of JournalismReception to follow.

The event will be on:
06:30 PM – 08:30 PM PDT
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Asia Pacific Hall
at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue
580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC

The event is open to the public free of charge, and will also be streamed live online (click here for details) for those who cannot make it to Vancouver.

Admission to the public event is FREE, but registration is required.
Download the flyer here.

For those who cannot make it to Vancouver, we are pleased to announce that this public event will be streamed live online.

For webcast instructions, please read below:
1. Click the orange “Click here to watch the webcast” button. (Or if this does not work, please copy-paste the link found below the button)
2. Click on “Big Data Meets Brain Science (Brain Matters! Vancouver)”. (The link will only be live during the event time.)

Click here to watch the webcast

*If the button does not work, go here: http://creative-services.sfu.ca/broadcast/

Technical Requirements for viewing Streaming Video Webcasts:
Adobe Flash Player 10 is required to view streaming video webcasts.  Please ensure you have the most recent version of the free Adobe Flash Player, and that your computer meets the minimum system requirements.

Once you have installed/updated Adobe Flash Player, please confirm that your computer is up to specification by viewing our sample webcast.

Please note that a high speed internet connection is required for reliable viewing (minimum 500kbps download speed, maximum 200ms “ping” or latency).  Also, you must ensure that you are not behind a firewall that is blocking certain required ports (80, 443, and 1935; you can check to see if these ports are open here).  If you have any ports that are blocked, you will need to contact your local system administrator or internet service provider well ahead of time and make arrangements to have them opened.

Brain Matters! Vancouver: Abstract Submission Deadline Extended

banner-reg-siteFor those wishing to submit their abstracts for the Brain Matters! Vancouver: Braincience and Social Responsibility (March 12-14, 2014  ; Vancouver, BC, Canada), we are excited to announce that the deadline for submission of abstracts has been EXTENDED!

Submission of abstracts closes September 13, 2013.

Students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members are invited to submit abstracts on a topic of relevance to the conference. One author of each abstract will give a five minute lightning talk at the conference. Lightning talks, first pioneered at software industry conferences, are an engaging means of communicating science to specialist and non-specialist audiences alike. The format is flexible – show one slide or twenty; speak, sing, or dance; or even a video as long as you follow one rule: five minutes and only five minutes.

For more information, please click here.
(If you are having troubles viewing the link, please copy and paste the following in the URL bar of your browser: http://brainmattersvancouver.ca/abstract-submissions/)
Please post and distribute widely.

Save the Date: Brain Matters! Vancouver


The National Core for Neuroethics will be hosting Brain Matters! Vancouver : Brain Science and Social Responsibility on March 12-14, 2014 at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver, BC.
Brain Matters! Vancouver is an exciting venue for scholars and members of the public to come together to explore the implications of brain science and social responsibility. Join us in expanding this conversation of relevance to all!
There will be THEMATIC SESSIONS that are designed to maximize interaction between speakers and the audience, and LIGHTNING TALKS to provide attendees with the opportunity to present their ideas.
Plan to attend by taking note of these dates:
Submission of abstracts opens: JUNE 24 28, 2013
Submission of abstracts closes: AUGUST 30, 2013
Please distribute this information widely, and consider joining us in beautiful Vancouver in March 2014.

Nudge symposium proceedings

The current issue of the European Journal of Risk Regulation has the proceedings of a symposium on nudging, and it contains a set of insightful papers. The introduction by the editor says it best.

The EJRR starts the new year by hosting a pioneering symposium devoted to one of the latest policy innovations that is currently experimented in the United Kingdom and the United States: the ubiquitous, yet controversial, Nudge. This idea originates from the homonymous, 2008 best-selling book published by the economist Richard Thaler and the legal scholar Cass Sunstein. By building upon the findings of behavioural research, they refute the classic economic assumption that “each of us thinks and chooses unfailingly well”1 and they advocate the need for public authorities to nudge people to make decisions that serve their own long-term interests without however removing their right to choose.

At a time in which governments are taking considerable interest in the use of nudging, we have asked some of the leading authors who have already contributed to the literature surrounding the regulatory innovations, generally referred as New Governance, to share their ideas on this appealing regulatory approach.

In his opening essay, Nudging Healthy Lifestyles, Adam Burgess provides a critical assessment of the introduction of behavioural, nudging approaches to correct lifestyle behaviours in the UK. His thought-provoking analysis triggered a lively debate that has been framed along the subsequent essays signed by On Amir and Orly Lobel, Evan Selinger and Kyle Powys White, Alberto Alemanno and Luc Bovens.

The article by Alberto Alemanno, Managing Editor of the European Journal of Risk Regulation is a fulsome account of the propriety of nudging in the case of tobacco control (recently highlighted by Roland on these pages); that nudging in this instance overcomes many of the objections that are raised in the other contributions to the symposium.

I also liked Selinger & White’s analysis of nudging in the context of Brad Allenby and Dan Sarewitz’s insight on the three levels by which we should view technological fixes (as articulated in their excellent book The Techno-Human Condition, which I have written about before). In particular, they point out the naiveté of only considering shop-floor arguments, a topic we will return to again.

Hat tip to Marleen Eijkholt for alerting me to this symposium.

Image credit: Transcapitalist

Cognitive training as a bona fide therapeutic

The New Scientist reports that Brain Plasticity, Inc. a developer of cognitive training games, has entered into discussions with the FDA to market one of its brain training software packages as a bona fide therapeutic. The issue is of interest on many accounts, and the New Scientist article covers many of the obvious ones that were discussed at the Entertainment Software and Cognitive Neurotherapeutics Society meeting held last week in San Francisco.  Noteworthy among them are the hope that FDA approval will bring validity to a field that has both serious practitioners and charlatans others who cut corners, as well as the concern that FDA approval might slow down progress, as the approval process is likely to be glacial compared to the pace of change in software development.

But if we unpack this a bit, we find that there are deeper levels of significance, and at least one of these are is worthy of further discussion. Continue reading