“Roadmap to a New Neuroscience”
(Ver 1.0, October 11, 2014)
- 1 (I) GREEN PRINCIPLES
- 2 (II) SCIENTIFIC AIMS & PRACTICES
- 3 (III) ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT
- 4 (IV) OPEN & COOPERATIVE SCIENCE; COMMUNITY
- 5 (V) RESEARCH PRACTICES & HEALTH
- 6 (VI) ACTION
(I) GREEN PRINCIPLES
Our research will be green and exclude toxic methodologies. We will strive to create a healthy environment both within and outside the laboratory. Our science must move beyond sustainability toward restoration. We will help mitigate and undo past damage.
No Captive Animal Experimentation
Engender and practice deep respect for all living systems. Encourage observation of animal behaviour in natural habitats and healing situations. Seek to identify and understand brain activity, perception, cognition, sentience, and liberty in other forms of life. No Captive Animal Experimentation
Understand the essential nature of neurodiversity and variability. Explore the role of diversity in both neural substrates and individuals. Question the very idea of “typical” brain structures, functions and “phenotypes”. Challenge, rethink and deconstruct definitions of “disorders”, “normal” and “deviance”. Be aware of racism, sexism, ableism, mentalism, sanism, ageism, speciesism, anthropocentrism and other forms of bias and discrimination in neuroscience research. Search for methods, cures and changes of perception that can reduce suffering, but not normalize or reduce the rich variability of life.
Individual Autonomy & Integrity
Study how brain dynamics enable free action and how we support and enhance freedom. Respect individual liberty, integrity, dignity and choice. Research must aim at increasing individual agency, not control. Examine the boundaries between self, others and the environment.
Peaceful & Non-Military Research
Neuroscience must be directed exclusively toward health, peaceful and non-violent purposes. Never transfer, or in any way assist, encourage or induce anyone else to use neuroscience applications for violent or oppressive purposes.
Safeguard the privacy of individuals with protections against neuro-surveillance in research and outcomes.
Green Research Space
Let our space reflect our principles. Create a healthy and serene space. Use reclaimed materials and renewable energy. Increase green biomass.
(II) SCIENTIFIC AIMS & PRACTICES
Complexity and Multi-Scale Research
Aim to study and understand the brain in ways that recognize the full richness across spatial levels and time including:
Pursue research that ranges from the atomic scale to social system dynamics.
Identify the pitfalls of reductionism. Take a holistic approach that seeks to understand emergent properties across levels.
(c).Neurodynamics & Organic Interaction
Brain activity is constantly changing. Move away from approaches based on homeostasis, control and optimization. Seek to understand the conditions that allow for organic homeodynamics, responsiveness, interaction, adaptation, consciousness, and autonomy.
(d).Plasticity & Non-Fatalism
Move away from genetic determinism and other forms of fatalism. Recognize the continuum of change occurring across short term memory, learning, development, and evolution. Do not get trapped between nature and nurture. Acknowledge the ability of the brain to modify itself.
Embodied, Environmental & Social Context
The brain cannot be accurately studied and understood as a disembodied organ. Aim to understand the brain in its embodied social and environmental context.
Beware of hubris and arrogance. Remain flexible. Consider that there may be more than one right answer. Befriend paradox. Understand that recognizing and admitting error is one of the foundations of responsible science. Support other scientists in acknowledging and uncovering error. Never shame.
Basic & Fundamental Research
Pursue fundamental inquiry for the sake of pure curiosity so long as it is not harmful. Fixation on applicability can obscure the road to discovery. Remain creative.
(III) ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT
Defend the autonomy of researchers, laboratories and scientific organizations so long as they do not harm others. Free speech is essential for the development of scientific ideas. We will unequivocally defend the right of others to speak even if we deeply disagree with their positions.
Public and Community Funding
We are a not-for-profit laboratory. We will take no corporate, pharmaceutical or military funding. Our research will be supported by individuals, the public, non-profit organizations and government. We will strive for independent and unbiased research.
Recognition of Work & Justice in Labor Practices
Open does not mean absence of recognition. Individuals and groups should be recognized, rewarded and supported for the work they do. Defend workers’ rights.
Engage in education. Education is both a right and responsibility. Help other laboratories green their research. Learn from other researchers, publics, traditions and cultures. Be respectful. Be mindful and avoid condescension and appropriation. Public education should be universally available and free.
Non-Hierarchical Research Practices
Although elders and experts carry invaluable knowledge and wisdom, we are all students and teachers. Great findings and thoughts should be judged and recognized by merit not credentials.
Help create the necessary institutional structures, governance, policy and legal frameworks to enable open, safe and green science.
(IV) OPEN & COOPERATIVE SCIENCE; COMMUNITY
Open & Cooperative Science
Practice and support open, transparent and accessible research, including open science methodologies, open source technologies, tools, data, findings and communications. Report negative results. No patents. Nurture local and international collaborations across research groups, institutions, and disciplines. Although it is important at times to work in solitude, sharing, discussion and collaboration between individuals is often crucial for investigating the most complex scientific questions.
Welcome and help integrate multiple scientific methods, perspectives and practices including atomic and molecular neuroscience, anatomy, genetics, physiology, psychology, environmental studies and philosophy of mind. Explore traditional approaches to brain health and living. Bridge science, the humanities and the arts. Invite rich narratives and artful feedback.
Build community. Breakdown expert vs. lay conceits. Nurture citizen science and bi-directional flow of knowledge between researchers and the public(s).
(V) RESEARCH PRACTICES & HEALTH
Protect Subjects’ and Researchers’ Safety & Health
Comply with, and exceed, existing research regulations. Help develop stronger local and international health, safety, data protection and ethical guidelines in the pursuit of scientific understanding. Practice the precautionary principle. Informed consent is essential.
Complex & Non-Invasive Techniques
Find alternatives to invasive technology and techniques. Develop approaches that respect the organic, independent and complex nature of the mind.
Therapy, Clinical Relevance and Universal Design
Work tirelessly to mitigate suffering due to neurological conditions. Beware of creating pathological categorization in order to satisfy social conformity. Design neuroscience studies, approaches and therapies that eliminate physical barriers and marginalization.
Universal Access & Health Care
All people should have access to neuroscience health discoveries without barriers or discrimination.
Profound Questions, Rigorous Research & Deep Fun
We will challenge ourselves to tackle the most profound questions in neuroscience. We will sustain responsible, inventive and rigorous research practices that also incorporate humour, sass and deep fun.
These principles and aims must not just be theoretical. Science needs to be practiced.
To Paraphrase Groucho Marx:
These are our principles, and if you don’t like them… well, we have others.
“Green and Open Neuroscience: Principles, Practices & Aims” by The Green Neuroscience Laboratory is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.greenneuro.org/principles.