Dr. Cabrera presents poster at NEURON Symposium

Laura Cabrera photoCenter Assistant Professor Dr. Laura Cabrera recently traveled to Riga, Latvia to attend and present at the ERA-NET NEURON (Network of European Funding for Neuroscience Research) Cofund Mid-Term Symposium. Dr. Cabrera presented the poster “Contemporary Psychiatric Neurosurgery: Updates on a Cross-National Comparison of Trends in Media Coverage and Public Attitudes.” Her co-authors are Merlin Bittlinger, Hayami Lou, Sabine Müller, and Judy Illes. Their research is part of an ongoing NEURON-funded project, “Media Coverage of Psychiatric Neurosurgery: Cross-national Investigations of Public Reactions and Attitudes.”

Poster Abstract: Understanding the exposure of patients and the public to contemporary trends in psychiatric neurosurgery is essential to understanding their views and receptivity to them. Toward this goal, we conducted an in-depth content analysis of media articles and reader comments on all types of psychiatric neurosurgery between 1960-2015. We used Factiva and media websites to compile full-length articles published in major newspapers and magazines from ERAnet consortium partners: Canada, the US, Germany, and Spain.
The final dataset comprised of 517 articles and 477 comments (Canada/USA: 201 articles, 183 comments; Germany: 156 articles, 115 comments; Spain: 160 articles, 179 comments). We coded inductively for themes and phenomena of interest. We found that coverage of psychiatric neurosurgery has increased and changed over time, although frequent references to historical milestones are retained. Deep brain stimulation and depression are the main focus. Risk is the disadvantage most commonly mentioned in articles from Canada/USA and Germany, and in reader comments across all countries. German articles almost uniquely, although still minimally, report on ethical issues such as identity and control. Over time, reporting becomes more positive. German media coverage is the most cautious, yet German reader comments are more favorable than those from Canada/USA.
While modern press reports about psychiatric neurosurgery reflect growing optimism, the public is divided. Ongoing studies will further inform the influence of media reporting trends on the values, perceptions, and hopes that people hold toward psychiatric neurosurgery, and the significant ways in which these views may shape policy-making for mental health care.


Dr. Cabrera presents at 1st Congress for Ethics and Neurosurgery

cabrera-crop-2015Center Assistant Professor Dr. Laura Cabrera recently traveled to Stockholm, Sweden to attend and present at the 1st Congress for Ethics and Neurosurgery, held May 4-6. The congress was arranged by the Ethicolegal Committee of the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies (EANS), the Ethics Committee of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS), the Department of Neurosurgery at Karolinska University Hospital, and the Swedish Society of Medicine.

Dr. Cabrera presented a talk entitled “Media Coverage & Public Perception on Psychiatric Neurosurgery.” The event brought participants from around the world, including Japan, Turkey, Canada, USA, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. The talks touched on a number of important ethical considerations in neurosurgery, such as innovation and conflicts of interest, value of life, the use of stem-cells in neurological disease, concurrent surgery, and professional responsibility. “Everyone left looking forward to the next edition of the congress,” said Dr. Cabrera.

Is External Pressure Really the Key Objection Against Neurosurgery for Imprisoned Psychopaths?

cabrera-crop-2015A commentary by Center Assistant Professor Dr. Laura Cabrera was recently published in AJOB Neuroscience, titled “Is External Pressure Really the Key Objection Against Neurosurgery for Imprisoned Psychopaths?”

Dr. Cabrera addressed two main issues contained in Dietmar Hübner and Lucie White’s argument found in their research article “Neurosurgery for Psychopaths? An Ethical Analysis.” The first one regarding the claim that employing deep brain stimulation (the technique that Hübner and White focused on) for forensic purposes is still “in an early phase of design and discussion.” The second addressing Hübner and White’s claim regarding voluntary informed consent. In particular, Dr. Cabrera argues that the issue of external pressure is not a key objection to support that psychopaths’ informed consent is not voluntary.

Dr. Cabrera’s commentary is available to read online through Taylor & Francis Online.