Focquaert, F. (2013). Rethinking vulnerability. American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience, 4, 44-45.

The aim of deep brain stimulation (DBS) for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is to provide reflief for individuals who due to the very nature of their disease may be faced with (a history of) suicidal ideation and suicide attempts. It is not unlikely that DBS for TRD, which is currently experimental in nature, will become standard treatment sometime in the (near) future for patients who have failed conventional treatments (i.e., psychotherapy, medication, and electroconvulsive therapy).

document: 

Focquaert, F., Glenn, A. & Raine, A. (2013). Free will, responsibility, and the punishment of criminals (pp. 247-274). T. Nadelhoffer (Ed.). The Future of Punishment and Retribution. Oxford University Press.

The idea that our actions may not be as free as we perceive them to be raises questions not only of how we perceive our everyday behavior but also of how we perceive behavior that is considered unacceptable according to societal standards. If immoral or criminal behavior is the combined result of one's biological makeup and environment, and potentially some added randomness, should individuals be held responsible for their aberrant behavior? Should they be punished for their actions?

Focquaert, F., & Raine, A. (2012). Ethics of community-based sanctions. S. Barton-Bellessa (Gen. Ed.), Encyclopedia of community corrections (pp. 144-148). SAGE Publications.

This chapter puts forward a variety of ethical concerns and moral arguments related to community-based sanctions, and particularly focuses on the moral arguments that exist vis-à-vis community-based sanctions as an alternative to imprisonment. The chapter starts with a concise outline of a human rights and human dignity approach to community-based sanctions. Next, community-based sanctions are discussed within the wider framework of public health ethics and specific questions and moral arguments related to autonomy and mandatory treatment are brought forward.

document: 

Focquaert, F. (2011). Pediatric deep brain stimulation: a Cautionary approach. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 5, 1-2.

Today, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is performed to treat dystonia in children as young as 7 years of age (Roubertie et al., 2000). For a variety of reasons, timely intervention in childhood dystonia is important: (1) to prevent irreversible damage, (2) to obtain optimal treatment outcomes, since severity and duration of the disease are negative prognostic factors for succesful DBS treatment, and (3) to prevent long-term social costs due to social isolation (Isaias et al., 2008; Mehrkens et al., 2009; Clausen, 2010).

document: 

Focquaert, F. (2011, online first). Pediatric deep brain stimulation: Parental authority versus shared decision-making. Neuroethics.

This paper discusses the use of deep brain stimulation for the treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders in children. At present, deep brain stimulation is used to treat movement disorders in children and a few cases of deep brain stimulation for psychiatric disorders in adolescents have been reported. Ethical guidelines on the use of deep brain stimulation in children are therefore urgently needed. This paper focuses on the decision-making process, and provides an ethical framework for (future) treatment decisions in pediatric deep brain stimulation.

document: 

Vanneste, S., Focquaert, F., Van de Heyning, P., & De Ridder, D. (2011). Different resting state brain activity and functional connectivity in patients who respond and not respond to bifrontal tDCS. Experimental Brain Research, 210, 217-227.

Tinnitus is an ongoing phantom percept. It has been demonstrated that bifrontal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) can reduce tinnitus. In this study, one group of patients reported a substantial improvement in their tinnitus perception, whereas another group described minor or no beneficial effect at all. The objective was to verify whether the activity and connectivity of the resting brain is different for people who will respond to bifrontal tDCS for tinnitus in comparison with non-responders.

document: 

Focquaert, F. & Raine, A. (2011). Antisocial Personality Disorders. W. Chambliss (Gen. Ed.). Key issues in crime and punishment (pp. 13-28). SAGE.

Current treatment programs for antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) and psychopathy, as well as conduct disorder in children, indicate the lack of biological treatment approaches and the need for a more symptom-based approach. However, there have been recent findings on dietary intervention, psychopharmacology, neurofeedback, and electrical stimulation of the brain.

document: 

Focquaert, F. & Braeckman, J. (2011). Mirroring the mind: on empathy and autism. A. De Block, & P. Adriaens (Eds.). Maladapting minds (pp. 241-263). Oxford University Press.

From an evolutionary point of view, the prevalence of disorders that are characterized by (extremely) low-empathy, such as autism spectrum conditions and psychopathy, is hard to grasp. Empathy affects almost every aspect of our social world ans (extremely) low empathizing skills are devastating to an individual's social life. The following questions loom large: Why are autism spectrum conditions so common and why are they more prevalent in men? And in general, why does a 'negative' trait like low empathy even manifest itself at all?

document: 

Focquaert, F., Steven M.S., Vanneste, S., Doron, K.W., & Platek, S.M. (2010). Mindreading in individuals with an empathizing versus systemizing cognitive style: an fMRI study. Brain Research Bulletin, 83, 214-222.

Our fMRI study compares the neural correlates of face-based mindreading in healthy individuals with an empathizing (n=12) versus systemizing cognitive style (n=12). The empathizing group consists of individuals that score high on empathizing and low on systemizing, while the systemizing group consists of individuals with an opposite cognitive pattern.

document: