vigorous things to escape the fire. Police obtained a search warrant for the electronic data stored on his pacemaker and a cardiologist found it “highly improbable” that he could have done all the things he claimed. Sooner or later the same issue will arise with a neuroprosthetic device. Stay tuned to see whether the law and bioethics can find a way to resolve such perplexing issues as the field of neuroscience races ahead. l
depression, OCD, eating disorders, aggression, and addiction. A July 15 article in the New England Journal of Medicine describes how doctors were able to help a patient who had lost his ability to articulate words and sentences after a brain-stem stroke. They implanted a multi-electrode array over the part of the cortex that controls speech, recorded cortical activity while the participant attempted to say words—and eventually sentences—and were able to decode what he was trying to say without him actually saying it. That raises the question of whether such imagined speech or thoughts should be made available to outsiders who might use it against a person. The possibility was raised in a case in Ohio in which a man was found guilty of arson and insurance fraud after a fire in his home. He claimed to have done all sorts of
PHIL BOFFEY is former deputy editor of the New York Times Editorial Board and editorial page writer, primarily focusing on the impacts of science and health on society. He was also editor of Science Times and a member of two teams that won Pulitzer Prizes The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not imply endorsement by the Dana Foundation.
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