Psychiatric Neurosurgery

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Psychiatric Neurosurgery – Ethical, Legal and Societal Issues

The objective of this international, interdisciplinary research consortium is the comprehensive investigation of ethical, legal, and societal issues of the whole field of contemporary psychiatric neurosurgery (PNS) using both normative and empirical methods. Although medical ethicists have broadly investigated deep brain stimulation (DBS), there is a neglect in ethics with regard to ablative PNS comprising thermal or radiofrequency ablation procedures, and radiosurgery (Gamma Knife). Therefore, we investigate the whole field of PNS and compare the different advantages and disadvantages of the different methods. We will also evaluate emerging techniques aiming at controlling brain functions situation-specifically, e.g., optogenetics, closed-loop DBS, and closed-loop systems that measure continuously brain activity, and initiate counter-measures as soon as suspicious arousal is detected. We will particularly focus on possible applications of PNS in forensic contexts, e.g., for intervening in the brains of pedophilic child offenders or psychopaths.

One aim of the collaboration project is to work out recommendations for a justifiable development of psychiatric neurosurgery based on the ethical, legal, societal and clinical research results of our collaboration.

The research consortium is funded by the Federal Ministry of Research and Education (01GP1621 A and B) (Germany), the CIHR-INMHA (Canada), and the National Institute of Health Carlos III (Spain).

Funding period: 1.04.2016 - 30.09.2019

Contact

PD Dr. Sabine Müller

Assistant professor, Medical Ethicist

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Research fellow in the project