The Importance of Cross-Cultural Neuroethics in (Cultural) Neuroscience

31 01 2011

The Dana Foundation has recently published a piece by Moheb Costandi, titled “Cross-Cultural Neuroethics: Look Both Ways“, pointing at the challenges neuroscientists are facing when they are doing research in cultures that do not share their own system of values and beliefs.

“In the Western World, we may take it for granted that our scientific values and ethical concepts are universal, but this is not the case.(…) Indigenous peoples, for example, have fundamentally different worldviews and philosophies, and do not subscribe to our scientific values.”

A culture’s (community’s) system of values and its religious and philosophical beliefs are aspects that need to be taken into account when doing (cross-)cultural research, in order to prevent issues related to transparency, consent, confidentiality and compliance, for instance. This is where cross-cultural neuroethics comes in:

“[It] aims to overcome potential misunderstandings that might arise when the worldview of researchers differs from that of the community they are investigating.”

One example for such a misunderstanding mentioned by the article was the investigation of DNA samples of the Havasupai Indians by geneticists at Arizona State University in 1990. Over at Mindhacks, I’ve also discovered an interview on a related topic with a Maori neuroscientist. Link here to read a related piece, titled “Toward a Clearer Understanding of the Multi-cultural Perspectives Concerning Pressing Neuroethical Issues” a by Daofeng Chen.

via Mindhacks

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