Research Project Used in Nuffield Council on Bioethics Report

Allyson Purcell-Davis, Senior Lecturer at St Mary’s University College, Twickenham has provided research for a report by Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which was released earlier this week.

The report, called ‘Novel Neurotechnologies: Intervening in the Brain’, examines possible benefits and unintended consequences of technologies that intervene in the brain. It also sets out an ethical framework to guide these practices.

Ms Purcell-Davis, who is currently conducting her PhD research on how BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme reported on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, was commissioned by Nuffield Council to explore the representations of novel neurotechnologies within social media.

Her research informed a chapter on the communication and representations of novel neurotechnologies in the media.

The research categorised and analysed the first 20 search results in the Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Delicious and Google Blogs social media platforms for keywords including ‘deep brain simulation’, ‘brain computer interface’ and ‘neural stem cell replacement theory’. It provided a ‘snapshot’ of content on social media platforms in which novel neurotechnologies are mentioned, and an analysis of the sources responsible for creating or uploading this content.

Ms Purcell-Davis commented, “It was an excellent opportunity for me to work with an organisation developing an ethical framework in the application of new medical technologies. The social media aspect meant that I was able to contribute to a new field in media research too.”

For more information visit the St Mary’s University College website