Neurogaming: What’s Neuroscience and Ethics Got To Do With It?

Date & Time

Thu, 11/07/2013
5:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.


Video games are increasingly in the news. Teenagers are fighting virtual wars, three-year olds are learning language, and senior citizens are playing games in the hope of improving their memory. Rapid advances in brain research are also enabling neuroscientists, in collaboration with game developers, to develop games that contribute to observable educational and therapeutic innovations. While potentially beneficial, it is important to ask about the ethical and social implications associated with the merging of neuroscience with game development and use. Join an expert panel in exploring advances in neurogaming and what it may mean for all of us as we learn more about the brain.


This event presented in collaboration with:

The International Neuroethics Society (INS) is a membership organization that focuses on the social, legal, ethical and policy implications of neuroscience research and its applications. As our understanding of the brain increases, its influence in classrooms, courtrooms, offices and homes becomes more challenging and necessitates the responsible examination and understanding of neuroscientific discoveries and technologies for society. Our members are scientists, clinicians, professors, lawyers, CEOs, students and many others who explore issues related to, for example, the use of imaging devices in the court room and the workplace, drugs or devices that change cognition or personality, uses of neurotechnology and neuromarketing , among others.
The INS mission is to promote the development and responsible application of neuroscience through interdisciplinary and international research, education, outreach and public engagement for the benefit of people of all nations, ethnicities, and cultures. If you would like to support the INS goals as a Friend of the International Neuroethics Society or through your organization, please visit our website at



The Center for Ethics in Science and Technology and The International Neuroethics Society wish to acknowledge the generous support of the following sponsors for this event:

  • Dorris Neuroscience Center, The Scripps Research Institute
  • Laboratory for Cognitive Neuroscience,¬†Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • Psychology Department, Point Loma Nazarene University



and the following members of the


  • Cognitive Science Department
  • Neurosciences Department
  • Neurosciences Graduate Program
  • Philosophy Department
  • Psychology Department
  • Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center

To view a recording of this event, please click here.


Steven E. Hyman, Moderator
Founding President, International Neuroethics Society

Steven E. Hyman, M.D. is the director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute. He is also Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. Hyman joined the Broad after a decade of service as provost of Harvard University. From 1996 to 2001, he served as director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Prior to his government service he was the first faculty director of Harvard University’s interdisciplinary Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative. Hyman is the editor of the Annual Review of Neuroscience and the founding president of the International Neuroethics Society. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies of Science where he serves on the Council, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Hyman is to become President Elect of the Society for Neuroscience in November 2013. Hyman received his B.A. summa cum laude from Yale College and an M.A. from the University of Cambridge, which he attended as a Mellon fellow studying the history and philosophy of science. He earned his M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

C. Shawn Green
University of Wisconsin-Madison

C. Shawn Green received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester under the supervision of Daphne Bavelier. His work there focused on neural plasticity and perceptual learning – specifically how playing certain types of “action” video games leads to large scale changes in perceptual and cognitive abilities. Green then completed a post-doc at the University of Minnesota concentrating on machine learning and computational vision under the supervision of Daniel Kersten and Paul Schrater. Currently Green is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and an affiliate faculty member in the Games+Learning Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on specificity and generalization in learning – essentially, under what training conditions do you only get better at the trained task (for example, if you do a lot of Sudoku, you may really only get better at Sudoku – not other types of reasoning tasks) and under what conditions do you see generalization (for example, training on working memory tasks may improve performance on other tests of cognitive function)? His work continues to utilize off-the-shelf video games such as first-person shooters or simulation games, which have been shown to promote wide transfer of learning. The lab also custom designs video games to look at perceptual learning, cognitive abilities, and decision-making.

Adam Gazzaley
University of California – San Francisco

Adam Gazzaley obtained an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, completed clinical residency in Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania, and postdoctoral training in cognitive neuroscience at UC Berkeley. He is the founding director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at the UC San Francisco, an Associate Professor in Neurology, Physiology and Psychiatry, and Principal Investigator of a cognitive neuroscience laboratory. His laboratory studies neural mechanisms of perception, attention and memory, with an emphasis on the impact of distraction and multitasking on these abilities. His unique research approach utilizes a powerful combination of human neurophysiological tools, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial stimulation (tCS). A major accomplishment of his research has been to expand our understanding of alterations in the aging brain that lead to cognitive decline. His most recent studies explore how we may enhance our cognitive abilities, and/or prevent them from declining in various neuropsychiatric conditions, via engagement with custom designed video games, neurofeedback and tCS. Dr. Gazzaley has authored over 70 scientific articles, delivered almost 300 invited presentations around the world, and his research and perspectives have been consistently profiled in high-impact media, such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TIME, Discover, Wired, PBS, NPR, CNN and NBC Nightly News. Recently, he wrote and hosted the nationally televised, PBS-sponsored special “The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley”. Awards and honors for his research include the Pfizer/AFAR Innovations in Aging Award, the Ellison Foundation New Scholar Award in Aging, and the Harold Brenner Pepinsky Early Career Award in Neurobehavioral Science.

Jonathon Blow
Independent Game Developer, San Francisco, CA

Jonathon Blow is best known as the creator of Braid, which was released in 2008 and received critical acclaim. He is currently developing The Witness, to be released in 2013. For many years Blow wrote the Inner Product column for Game Developer Magazine. He is the primary host of the Experimental Gameplay Workshop each March at the Game Developers Conference, which has become a premier showcase for new ideas in video games. In addition, Blow is a regular participant in the Indie Game Jam. Blow is a founding partner of the Indie Fund, an angel style fund for independent game projects.

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