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From neuroinformatics to neuroethics: the essential role of standardization and scientific reporting for integrating knowledge across domains
Zach McKinney, Dimiter Prodanov, Sumit Soman, Aureli Soria-Frisch, Luigi Bianchi, Martijn de Neeling
Presenting author:
Zach McKinney
As neuroinformatics research continues to illuminate the computational aspects of human neurocognitive function, the necessity of accounting for variables concerning the individual attributes of research participants and their conscious and emotional states has become increasingly evident. Meanwhile, the emerging field of neuroethics continues to identify critical ethical challenges in the responsible development of neurotechnology that hinge on the precise neuro-physiological origins of cognitive concepts such as personal identity, agency, and dignity. Increasingly, progress in any domain of neuroscience and neurotechnology (NS/T) research depends critically on clear and accurate information sharing between multiple domains. Yet, such information sharing remains limited by insufficiently standardized terminology across domains and the variable quality and criteria by which NS/T research methods and results are reported, concerning both technical and human factors. This lack of standardized terminology and reporting guidelines diminishes the interpretability, replicability, and generalizability of NS/T research, and thus its ability to inform broader discussions on the ethical, legal/regulatory, social/cultural (ELSC), and clinical implications of emerging neurotechnologies. As a result, ELSC considerations remain difficult to incorporate in neurotechnology governance and usage, which remain driven by existing legal precedent, cultural and institutional norms, and market forces.

Here, we highlight the work of two IEEE Standards Working Groups that are working to address these problems – namely IEEE P2731, developing a Unified Terminology for Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI), and IEEE P2794, developing a Reporting Standard for in vivo Neural Interface Research (RSNIR), including both technical and human factors. To date, P2731 has synthesized a BCI Functional Model and Glossary that consolidate ‘best practice’ taxonomy and terminology across the diverse field of BCI research. Meanwhile, P2794 has published a set of preliminary reporting guidelines for implantable neural interface research and is nearing completion of a draft standard that will be shared for broad community review. This presentation will outline the scope and progress of both working groups and invite further community feedback and engagement, including via participation in a NS/T Stakeholder Survey, conducted in parallel with the release of the P2794 draft standard.