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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: May 2010

14 - Neural engineering

Summary

Most current research efforts in neural engineering focus on restoring health and functionality of the nervous system. In addition, there is considerable interest in developing neural engineering technologies for the purpose of enhancement. In the short term, the bulk of the neural engineering applications will likely continue to focus on curing disease and reinstating lost functions. In the medium or long term, however, the focus of neural engineering might slowly but surely shift from therapy towards enhancement. Although neural engineering has a huge potential to relieve suffering, its further development is likely to trigger difficult ethical questions as well. These challenges will have to be adequately dealt with so as to guarantee responsible further development and appropriate use of neural engineering technologies.

INTRODUCTION

Neural engineering is a promising new field of research that employs an engineering approach to the study, reinstatement, and enhancement of a wide range of nervous system functions. The first international neural engineering conference was held in Capri, Italy, in 2003. A year later the field's first academic journal, The Journal of Neural Engineering, was established. Though new, neural engineering synthesizes a broad range of older fields, such as experimental neuroscience, clinical neurology, computational neuroscience, electroconvulsive therapy, electrical engineering, robotics, computer engineering, and materials science.

Most current research efforts in neural engineering focus on curing disease and reinstating lost functions of the nervous system. Besides, several recent research initiatives demonstrate a significant interest in the development of neural engineering technologies for the purpose of enhancing human traits.

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Scientific and Philosophical Perspectives in Neuroethics
  • Online ISBN: 9780511676505
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511676505
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