Recent Neuroscience Articles
Intensify Need for "Freedom of Thought" Updating
Four new articles
(scroll down) underscore why the CCLE is working so hard to update the
fundamental right to "freedom of thought" to include brain privacy,
autonomy, and choice (i.e., "cognitive liberty"). Increasingly, scientists
are identifying the functional neurochemistry that underlies our thought
processes, including religious experiences.
In addition, drugs and
other devices that target and disrupt the central nervous system are
increasingly being explored for their potential to serve as weapons and
policing aids. As this process accelerates, traditional legal rights such as
freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and privacy, will have to evolve in
tandem by acknowledging and protecting an equally fundamental, but
underlying, right to cognitive liberty. Failure to make this move will
result in: (1) losing cherished rights we currently enjoy, and (2)
foreclosing opportunities for expanding how and what we think.
//Richard Glen Boire
CCLE Co-Director & Legal Counsel
Keeping Freedom in Mind:
1. "The Serotonin
System and Spiritual Experiences"
Jacqueline Borg, Bengt Andrée, Henrik Soderstrom, and Lars Farde, Am J
Psychiatry 2003 160:1965-1969.
finding in normal male subjects indicated that the serotonin system may
serve as a biological basis for spiritual experiences. The authors
speculated that the several-fold variability in 5-HT1A receptor density may
explain why people vary greatly in spiritual zeal."
2. "The Emerging
Zack Lynch, Brainwaves, Dec. 8, 2003
“Neurowarfare, the use
of weapons that target the human central nervous system, is an escalating
concern. This month's Acumen Journal uncovers some areas of Russian
neurowarfare research that should cause great concern, including: Project
Flute -- a neurotoxic agent that becomes activated during times of stress or
great emotion, and can damage the nervous system, alter moods, trigger
psychological changes and even kill.”
3. "Humanity? Maybe
It's in the Wiring"
SANDRA BLAKESLEE, New York Times, December 9, 2003,
given up looking for the seat of the soul, but they are still seeking what
may be special about human brains, what it is that provides the basis for a
level of self-awareness and complex emotions unlike those of other animals.
Most recently they
have been investigating circuitry rather than specific locations, looking at
pathways and connections that are central in creating social emotions, a
moral sense, even the feeling of free will. There are specialized neurons at
work, as well - large, cigar-shaped cells called spindle cells."
4. "Hard Wired For
God" The Globe and Mail, Canada
article about the University of Montreal imaging the brains of local Nuns
while they recall religious experiences.