Discussing Neuro-Enhancement regulation using a card game

Future science communicators debated about neuro-enhancement and its regulation with the help of DECIDE, the open access deliberative game. A specific kit about “neuro-enhancement” within the framework of the NERRI project has been developed by the Science Communication Observatory (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) for this purpose. From the Spanish NERRI partner Universitat Pompeu Fabra

The first Spanish Mobilization and Mutual Learning activity took place at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona and was undertaken by the students of the Master´s Degree in Science Communication from the same university. They had the chance to learn more about neuro-enhancement (NE) and to discuss it using Play Decide, a deliberative card game developed to talk about controversial issues in a smooth and effective way.

Participants were divided into several groups. The game consisted of a structured debate: during the first part information about the topic were given with reference to personal experiences, while the second part gave the opportunity to share opinions, finally the last step was creating a common deliberation. After an hour and a half, all groups were asked to explain their positions on different alternatives to regulate NE at a European dimension. Four closed alternatives were given to participants, but they could also write a fifth one if they wanted to. 

The most widespread opinion was that NE needed a regulation system based mainly on the precautionary principle. That is a reasoned restrictive stance. This main principle should also be assessed by the compilation of scientific information, and the advice of experts and international bodies as well as public consulting.

To develop the NE kit, UPF took as a starting point a kit called "Neuroscience – brain enhancements". This kit had been previously created by other organizations and was available in open access at the website of the decided game (www.playdecide.eu). In September 2013, this material was tested on a group of science communicators and some modifications were included. Besides this, experiences of other groups were collected (in particular, the case of the Vienna Open Lab in Austria), as well as recommendations from three advisers belonging to The Spanish Committee of Support to the Responsible Research and Innovation in Neuro-Enhancement (http://bit.ly/1uhk6Eb).  All these experiences and recommendations helped to adapt the kit to NERRI, introducing new cases, eliminating others and clarifying some concepts that had been misunderstood. This new kit is available in Spanish and English on the websitehttp://www.playdecide.eu/dkpdf/decide_kit1.php?nid=3092.