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.


Burwell, S., Sample, M., & Racine, E. (2017). Ethical aspects of brain computer interfaces: A scoping review. BMC Medical Ethics, 18(1), 60.

Voarino, N., Dubljević, V., & Racine, E. (2017). tDCS for memory enhancement: Analysis of the speculative aspects of ethical issues. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10, 678.

Dubljević, V., Saigle, V., & Racine, E. (2014). The rising tide of tDCS in the media and academic literature. Neuron, 82(4), 731-736.