As a young field currently in its second decade, neuroethics has a unique role in guiding responsible applications of neuroscience research to society. While neuroethics has captivated the attention of researchers worldwide, few institutions have dedicated neuroethics centers, and many identify neuroethics simply as a subdiscipline of bioethics. Since undergraduate neuroethics programs did not exist in the past, Generation X neuroethics investigators come from extremely diverse backgrounds and are faced with the ethical question of whether to concede to criticisms towards shaping a future for the field as a unique discipline, or to remain steadfast in contributing to the leadership of the field. The former choice is fuelled by fierce competition for placement in one of the few neuroethics centers, and involves young investigators pursuing neuroethics from the sidelines while affiliated with an established academic core discipline. The danger is that the neuroethical implications of the research may become lost or secondary to the expectations of the core discipline.
The traditional model of neuroscience research was to overlook engagement with ethicists, but we need to step things up a level. We need a creative approach to improve the neuroethical infrastructure within our institutions. Recently, the President’s Bioethics Commission urged for early integration of ethics into neuroscience research throughout the scientific process. However, the reverse is equally important – integrating neuroscience into neuroethics research. Having cross-pollination between the two would open the education process to more ideas and creativity, and cause naysayers of a future with neuroethics to rethink their disposition.