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Neuroethics and the BPS Research Ethics Code: updated discussion paper

20 August 2020

This is an updated version of a discussion paper that was originally published by the British Psychological Society in 2007.

The aim of this paper was to generate dialogue around the potential ethics issues associated with neural imaging and related fields of neurological and psychological research (described as ‘neuroethics’ from here on) that society members may encounter and to recommend potential avenues to alleviate such risk.

It is not meant to be a definitive text on neuroethics risk, but rather a starting point for such discussions.

This paper has undergone a revision to ensure that it continues to reflect a contemporary position on the potential neuroethics risks that society members may face during their research activities.

As before, the paper is divided into four sections, which correspond to the general structure of the BPS Code of Human Research Ethics. These four sections are:

  1. Respect for the autonomy and dignity of persons
  2. Scientific value
  3. Social responsibility
  4. Maximising benefit and minimising harm


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