[Report] The 32nd Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society

5 October, 2009 TSUTSUI Haruka

The 32nd Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society was held at Nagoya Congress Center on 16-18 September, 2009.

At this meeting, Nozomi Mizushima (Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, University of Tokyo) and I gave a poster presentation "Neuroethics of Sex Differences: a Perspective from analyses of Popular Neuroscience in Japan".

There are few neuroethical studies which focus on neuroscience of sex differences. Yet it is obvious that the sciences of sex differences need a careful treatment because of their possible effects on our society. Besides, the sex difference is one of the hot topics in the recent neuroscience boom. An ethical discussion on the neurosciences of sex differences would be a matter of urgency in such a situation. As a starting point of neuroethical consideration of sex differences, we analyzed Japanese popular-neuroscience literatures about sex differences in this presentation. Generally speaking, popular-neuroscientific discourses contain an excessive exaggeration of sex differences, which is based on neuro-essentialism (an idea that the brain determines our essential features).

In the conference, a number of people came to study our poster. The relationship between science and sex differences, in fact, has been much discussed particularly in evolutionary psychology. Yet it might be significant to present the existing arguments according to the actual circumstances of neuroscience. Through the presentation and discussion, we realized that such a work is much needed more than we had expected.

The problems about the relation between neuroscience of sex differences and society might not be new ones. This means, however, that they are really deep-rooted and serious problems. It is important to clarify such problems according to latest situations, and to open up interdisciplinary discussions. Our study is still at a preliminary stage, but we would like to advance our research and discussions with people in various fields.

Haruka Tsutsui (UTCP Collaborative Research Fellow)

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