Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 775–788 | Cite as

More Education, Less Administration: Reflections of Neuroimagers’ Attitudes to Ethics Through the Qualitative Looking Glass

  • A. A. Kehagia
  • K. Tairyan
  • C. Federico
  • G. H. Glover
  • J. Illes
Original Paper


In follow-up to a large-scale ethics survey of neuroscientists whose research involves neuroimaging, brain stimulation and imaging genetics, we conducted focus groups and interviews to explore their sense of responsibility about integrating ethics into neuroimaging and readiness to adopt new ethics strategies as part of their research. Safety, trust and virtue were key motivators for incorporating ethics into neuroimaging research. Managing incidental findings emerged as a predominant daily challenge for faculty, while student reports focused on the malleability of neuroimaging data and scientific integrity. The most frequently cited barrier was time and administrative burden associated with the ethics review process. Lack of scholarly training in ethics also emerged as a major barrier. Participants constructively offered remedies to these challenges: development and dissemination of best practices and standardized ethics review for minimally invasive neuroimaging protocols. Students in particular, urged changes to curricula to include early, focused training in ethics.


Neuroimaging Neuroethics Ethics 



Generously supported by National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Mental Health (NIH/NIMH) R01 #9R01MH84282, Canadian Health Institutes of Health Research (CIHR/INMHA) #CNE 85117, Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and British Columbia Knowledge Development Fund (BCKDF) (JI, Principal Investigator). Judy Illes holds the Canada Research Chair in Neuroethics.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. A. Kehagia
    • 1
  • K. Tairyan
    • 1
  • C. Federico
    • 1
  • G. H. Glover
    • 2
  • J. Illes
    • 1
  1. 1.National Core for Neuroethics, Division of Neurology, Department of MedicineThe University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Radiological Sciences Laboratory, Department of RadiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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