Neuroethics

My work has obvious routes to policy, and I believe engaging with the ethnical implications of my research is both a professional duty and personal responsibility.

A figure from our perspective. Both effects of racialized negative life experiences on neural responses and embedded phenotypic bias (against darker skin and/or coarse, curly hair) in devices may influence recorded data.

As I progressed through graduate school, I sought opportunities to pursue my interests in ethics and the complex interplay between science and society. My research is inherently social justice-oriented; I use quantifiable proxies of social inequities (e.g., racial discrimination, income, neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage) to elucidate inequities in trauma outcomes.

To this end, I have written several neuroethics pieces. My non-academic writing has been published on the Emory University Neuroethics Blog and received honors through the International Neuroethics Society.

More recently, I worked on a perspective discussing racial and phenotypic bias in human neuroscience methods with friends/collaborator Arthur Etter and Dr. Jasmine Kwasa.

The purpose of this article was to encourage neuroscientists to consider how bias enters data. We highlighted origins of bias (e.g., device bias) that may cause researchers to disproportionately exclude data from Black participants. Our article concluded with recommendations to the broader scientific community that we believe will help disentangle sources of exclusion and improve neurotechnology development. The article was well-received: it won ‘best overall presentation’ at the 2021 International Neuroethics Society conference and was selected for journal club at the 2022 Black In Neuro meeting.

As part of my dissertation, I incorporated a neuroethics project and collaborated with Robyn Douglas and Dr. Carlos Cardenas-Iniguez.

We proposed that studies on the neurobiology of socioeconomic factors would be more effective and accurate if structural racism was identified as the driver of inequities. Ethnoracially minoritized individuals disproportionately reside in disadvantaged neighborhoods and have fewer economic opportunities (as indexed by wages, benefits, wealth, etc.).

Therefore, the socioeconomic variables examined in neuroscience research must be situated within structural racism. In this article, we highlighted the necessity of research on area-level factors, the ethical implications of discoveries on socioeconomic-mental health pathways, and the importance of devising informed and community-led policies.

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