Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Neuroscience: Methodological and Ethical Challenges

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Marcello Ienca & Karolina Ignatiadis


Clinical neuroscience is increasingly relying on the collection of large volumes of differently structured data and the use of intelligent algorithms for data analytics. In parallel, the ubiquitous collection of unconventional data sources (e.g. mobile health, digital phenotyping, consumer neurotechnology) is increasing the variety of data points. Big data analytics and approaches to Artificial Intelligence (AI) such as advanced machine learning are showing great potential to make sense of these larger and heterogeneous data flows. AI provides great opportunities for making new discoveries about the brain, improving current preventative and diagnostic models in both neurology and psychiatry and developing more effective assistive neurotechnologies. Concurrently, it raises many new methodological and ethical challenges. Given their transformative nature, it is still largely unclear how AI-driven approaches to the study of the human brain will meet adequate standards of scientific validity and affect normative instruments in neuroethics and research ethics. This manuscript provides an overview of current AI-driven approaches to clinical neuroscience and an assessment of the associated key methodological and ethical challenges. In particular, it will discuss what ethical principles are primarily affected by AI approaches to human neuroscience, and what normative safeguards should be enforced in this domain.

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