Informed Consent in Implantable BCI Research: Identifying Risks and Exploring Meaning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Implantable brain–computer interface (BCI) technology is an expanding area of engineering research now moving into clinical application. Ensuring meaningful informed consent in implantable BCI research is an ethical imperative. The emerging and rapidly evolving nature of implantable BCI research makes identification of risks, a critical component of informed consent, a challenge. In this paper, 6 core risk domains relevant to implantable BCI research are identified—short and long term safety, cognitive and communicative impairment, inappropriate expectations, involuntariness, affective impairment, and privacy and security. Work in deep brain stimulation provides a useful starting point for understanding this core set of risks in implantable BCI. Three further risk domains—risks pertaining to identity, agency, and stigma—are identified. These risks are not typically part of formalized consent processes. It is important as informed consent practices are further developed for implantable BCI research that attention be paid not just to disclosing core research risks but exploring the meaning of BCI research with potential participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1299-1317
Number of pages19
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Brain–computer interface (BCI)
  • Deep brain stimulation (DBS)
  • Informed consent
  • Neuroethics
  • Research ethics
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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