Meeting of Minds

How are we going to use the increased knowledge on the human brain? European citizens in dialogue on brain research

Brain research is a fascinating and terrifying research area. These years see results that offer us hope of being able to understand and treat a number of serious illnesses and, at the same time, the results raise some important issues for society.

The increased knowledge on the human brain is expected to contribute to early diagnoses of hereditary diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer’s, to the development of new medicine to improve spirits, memory, and power of concentration, and to the development of new tech-niques to remedy handicaps where the cause is in the brain.
Some experts see brain research as just as significant and ground-breaking as biotechnology and information technology. The extensive Danish and international research under both pub-lic and private management will be of great significance to research in illnesses and develop-ment of diagnosis techniques and medical and surgical treatment.
But the results can also be of great importance in practical everyday life and influence how we as parents, patients, relatives, teachers, health personnel, etc. react when we meet sickly, “abnormal” or just unwanted behaviour. Perhaps our basic picture of what it means to be hu-man will be shaken? There is a need for dialogue between citizens, politicians, and experts on the perspectives in brain research.
Therefore, 14 Danish citizens have been invited to make up the panel, which, in dialogue with citizens from eight other European countries, is going to assess how we are going to use the increased knowledge on the human brain. The Danish consensus conference is going to con-tribute to providing Danish citizens, politicians, experts, and interested parties with a better knowledge basis to make this assessment on in a Danish as well as in a European context.

Purpose of the project

The Danish consensus conference on how to utilise the increased knowledge on the human brain has the following purposes:

  • To create knowledge on wishes and notions of citizens in connection with research and its use
  • To create knowledge on where (Danish) brain research stands and in what direction it is moving
  • To create increased attention on brain research and its use
  • To develop and test a method for involving citizens across cultures, language, and borders
  • To test a number of possibilities of developing a European public opinion and discuss the political perspectives of it.

The Danish consensus conference is carried through by a project management at the Danish Board of Technology in co-operation with a planning group.