Looking at the covers of the most important scientific journals or lay magazines published in the last few years an evidence emerges: brain is the favourite subject, its secrets the cover topic. If in the 90s we had the “brain decade”, in recent years neurosciencepromises, expectations and doubtshave broken the boundaries of scientific research, reaching the society.Scientific studies and technical advancements in brain science are opening new perspectivesin medicine in terms of diagnosis and therapies. In the meanwhile, new technologies are finding non- clinical applications: the use of brain imagingin the courtroomsis one example.

Scientists, clinicians, patients, philosophers, lawyers, communicators, sociologists, lay people: the number of stakeholders playing a unique role, each one with his own questions, worries, needs, points of view is surprisingly wide. The bid-brains in dialogue is a three-year project supported by the EU 7th Framework Programme coordinated by SISSA (Trieste, Italy), that offers occasions and platforms formeetings, discussions and exchanges. Focusingon brain imaging, predictive medicine and brain devices, bid has been working since 2008 to address its mainaim: fostering the dialogue between science and society on the new challenges of neuroscience.

The bid represents a rare example of project that aims at highlighting the crucial issues in neuroscience through the voices of different people deeply interested in its progress. Several participative methods for discussion have been tested during workshops and public conferences organized in different European locations. From these events, the bid staff has produced video interviews, articles on European lay and scientific journals (e.g., “Frontiers in neuroscience” and “EMBO reports”) in order to disseminate the information and points of view. All the material is at disposal on a constantly updated website (www.neuromediacorner.eu) where experts and lay people can find news, scientific content, research centres, events, etc.

Despite the interest and efforts of the different stakeholders, it is clear that more dialogue is needed. Voices we listened to do not appear prepared and ready to meet and confront to each other. An improvement in public engagement seemsmore and more urgent to foresee and anticipate future critical debates, situationsand choices at a scientific, socialand political level. Many are the recent examples: just before the bid-workshop focused on the scope and limits of brain imaging, a controversy started in US on the use of fMRI to understand the voters’ impressionsduring thelast presidential election.Similarly, this year, just after the bid-workshop “brains in dialogue on genetic testing”, the Food and Drug Administration sent letters to five companies that sell genetic tests directly to consumers ordering them to prove the validity of their products. The paper and the presentation will report the project results and methods as well as the most important topics and crucial issues emerged.

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PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Neuroscience
Experience of an interdisciplinary dialogue

Donato Ramaniand   Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Advanced Studies and SISSA

Chiara Saviane   Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Advanced Studies and SISSA

Looking at the covers of the most important scientific journals or lay magazines published in the last few years an evidence emerges: brain is the favourite subject, its secrets the cover topic. If in the 90s we had the “brain decade”, in recent years neurosciencepromises, expectations and doubtshave broken the boundaries of scientific research, reaching the society.Scientific studies and technical advancements in brain science are opening new perspectivesin medicine in terms of diagnosis and therapies. In the meanwhile, new technologies are finding non- clinical applications: the use of brain imagingin the courtroomsis one example.

Scientists, clinicians, patients, philosophers, lawyers, communicators, sociologists, lay people: the number of stakeholders playing a unique role, each one with his own questions, worries, needs, points of view is surprisingly wide. The bid-brains in dialogue is a three-year project supported by the EU 7th Framework Programme coordinated by SISSA (Trieste, Italy), that offers occasions and platforms formeetings, discussions and exchanges. Focusingon brain imaging, predictive medicine and brain devices, bid has been working since 2008 to address its mainaim: fostering the dialogue between science and society on the new challenges of neuroscience.

The bid represents a rare example of project that aims at highlighting the crucial issues in neuroscience through the voices of different people deeply interested in its progress. Several participative methods for discussion have been tested during workshops and public conferences organized in different European locations. From these events, the bid staff has produced video interviews, articles on European lay and scientific journals (e.g., “Frontiers in neuroscience” and “EMBO reports”) in order to disseminate the information and points of view. All the material is at disposal on a constantly updated website (www.neuromediacorner.eu) where experts and lay people can find news, scientific content, research centres, events, etc.

Despite the interest and efforts of the different stakeholders, it is clear that more dialogue is needed. Voices we listened to do not appear prepared and ready to meet and confront to each other. An improvement in public engagement seemsmore and more urgent to foresee and anticipate future critical debates, situationsand choices at a scientific, socialand political level. Many are the recent examples: just before the bid-workshop focused on the scope and limits of brain imaging, a controversy started in US on the use of fMRI to understand the voters’ impressionsduring thelast presidential election.Similarly, this year, just after the bid-workshop “brains in dialogue on genetic testing”, the Food and Drug Administration sent letters to five companies that sell genetic tests directly to consumers ordering them to prove the validity of their products. The paper and the presentation will report the project results and methods as well as the most important topics and crucial issues emerged.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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