Ethical, legal and social aspects of brain-computer interfaces

Research team

Matthew Sample, PhD (Pragmatic Health Ethics Research Unit, McGill University); Ralf Jox, MD, PhD (University of Lausanne, Ludwig-Maximilians-University); Sebastian Sattler, PhD (University of Cologne); Stefanie Blain-Moraes, PhD (McGill University); David Rodriguez-Arias, PhD (University of Granada); Eric Racine, PhD (Pragmatic Health Ethics Research Unit, Université de Montréal, McGill University)


Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQ-S)

Brain-computer interface (BCI) describes a variety of technologies that connect brain tissue to computer hardware. Researchers around the world are currently exploring ways to use this technology to improve health and quality of life. Yet, it is unknown what impact these novel devices will have on society or how they might affect the BCI user. In response, this project surveys healthcare professionals and members of the public in Germany, Spain, and Canada, asking about their hopes and concerns regarding the technology. A factorial vignette study, in addition, will investigate the possibility of prejudice towards BCI users. These efforts centered on an international deliberative workshop in Montréal, May 2018, bringing together patient, technical, clinical, and humanities perspectives.


  1. Sample Matthew, Sattler Sebastian, Blain-Moraes Stefanie, Rodriguez-Arias David, Racine Eric. Do publics share experts’ worries about brain-computer interfaces? A trinational survey on the ethics of neural technology. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 2019; 1-29; DOI: 10.1177/0162243919879220. (equal contribution of first two authors) Read article.
  2. Sample Matthew, Aunos Marjorie, Blain-Moraes Stefanie, Bublitz Christoph, Chandler Jennifer, Falk Tiago, Friedrich Orsolya, Groetzinger Deanna, Jox Ralf, Koegel Johannes, McFarland Dennis, Neufield Valerie, Rodriguez-Arias David, Sattler Sebastian, Vidal Fernando, Wolbring Gregor, Wolkenstein Andreas, Racine Eric. Brain-computer interfaces and personhood: Interdisciplinary deliberations on neural technology. Journal of Neural Engineering, 2019; 16(6); DOI: 10.1088/1741-2552/ab39cd. Read article.
  3. Boehlen Wren, Sample Matthew. Rehabilitation culture and its impact on technology: unpacking practical conditions for ultrabilitation. Disability and Rehabilitation, 2019. 30731045; DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1550531. More information.
  4. Racine Eric, Sample Matthew. Two problematic foundations of neuroethics and pragmatist reconstructions. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 2018; 27(4):566-577. Read article.
  5. Burwell Sasha, Sample Matthew, Racine Eric. Ethical aspects of brain computer interfaces: A scoping review. BMC Medical Ethics, 2017; 18(1), 60. Read article.
  6. Racine Eric, Sample Matthew. The competing identities of neuroethics: Remarks on theoretical and methodological assumptions and their practical implications for the future of neuroethics. In: Karen Rommelfanger and Syd Johnson, edit., New York: Routledge Handbook of Neuroethics, July 2017, Chapter 1. More information.
  7. Racine Eric, Quintal Ariane, Sample Matthew. Neuroessentialism in discussions about the impact of closed-loop technologies on agency and identity. AJOB Neuroscience, 2017; 8(2), 81-83. Read article.
  8. Burwell Sasha, Sample Matthew, Racine Eric. Ethical aspects of brain computer interfaces: A scoping review. BMC Medical Ethics, 2017; 18(1), 60. Read article.
  9. Voarino Nathalie, Dubljevic Veljko, Racine Eric. tDCS for memory enhancement: A critical analysis of the speculative aspects of ethical issues. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2017; 10(678), 1-13.  Read article.
  10. Dubljevic Veljko, Saigle Victoria, Racine Eric. The rising tide of tDCS in the media and academic literature. Neuron 2014; 82(4), 731-736. Read article.