Neuromodulation, free will and determinism: Lessons from the psychosurgery debate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


In this article I will explore societal reluctance towards neuromodulation by considering the earlier debate over psychosurgery. To that end, I will review the history of electrical stimulation of the brain and how early efforts coalesced into current day neurmodulation in both the clinical and research contexts. With this background, I will argue that the psychosurgery debate, though reflective of the societal turmoil of the 1960's and 70's, was also implicitly a discussion about the explanatory power of biological models to explain human consciousness and emotion and ultimately philosophical questions about free will and determinism. Deconstructing these lessons from the psychosurgery debate can help us better acknowledge advances in the neurosciences while avoiding both sweeping biological reductionism and over-reaching determinism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-118
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Neuroscience Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Brain research
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Determinism
  • Ethics
  • Free will
  • Neuroethics
  • Neuromodulation
  • Neuroscience
  • Psychosurgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Neurology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuromodulation, free will and determinism: Lessons from the psychosurgery debate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this