By Patrick Rogers
The current issue of Cognitive Neuroscience is a special issue on the neuroscience of consciousness. Of particular interest is the article by Victor A.F. Lamme, “How neuroscience will change our view consciousness“. From the abstract:
…the study of consciousness is dominated by what we know from introspection and behavior. This has fooled us into thinking that we know what we are conscious of. …in fact we don’t know what we are conscious of. …The exercise is an example of how neuroscience will move us away from psychological intuitions about consciousness, and hence depict a notion of consciousness that may go against our deepest conviction: “My consciousness is mine, and mine alone.” It’s not.
The rest of the issue is behind a paywall (UCSD has institutional access), but this article freely available to everyone.
By Patrick Rogers
Political scientists don’t typically have to worry about the ethical implications of their research the way a nuclear physicist might. After all it’s hard to see how an improved understanding of the differences between presidential and parliamentary systems can turned into a weapon.
The turn towards brain imaging, genetics and social networks does however raise a troubling issue with how our work might be used to diminish the privacy and independence of people in society. A perfect example of this can be found right here in San Diego with No Lie MRI, which uses fMRI to offer “truth-verification” services for $5k a pop.
Fortunately, the use of such technology is inadmissable in court, thanks to the Daubert Standard; however, this relies on the fact that such use of fMRI has heretofore been limited to laboratory conditions, and hasn’t been well-tested “in the field”. It’s not clear how long this limitation will remain.
Something for all of us to think about in our own research efforts.