Insight into public perceptions provides opportunities to take public desires and concerns into account in an early phase of innovation development in order to maximise the potential benefits for users of the future. Public perceptions of neuroimaging in health care are presented in this article, based on research undertaken in the Netherlands. In six focus groups, 46 citizens articulated benefits, disadvantages and specific concerns regarding future medical neuroimaging applications. Six technological frames of neuroimaging and three frames of the socio-technical system surrounding neuroimaging were found to underlie the arguments used to articulate the degree of desirability of future applications. Depending on the context, individuals use different frames and related lines of arguments. New and improved options for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders are considered conditionally desirable by almost all citizens consulted. The desirability of neuroimaging applications becomes controversial when specific applications embody conflicting values and desires. Depending on the weight given to these different values and desires, the application is perceived as desirable or undesirable. It appears that concerns regarding the endorsed values of certainty and naturalness are preferred to desired states as control over life and risk avoidance. As a consequence, enhancement options and options to determine a predisposition and to diagnose mental disorders might be considered controversial. The identified different perspectives and concerns are a suitable starting point for processes aiming at the identification of more responsible future directions and related applications of medical neuroimaging.
- Focus groups
- Lines of arguments
- Public perceptions
- Responsible research and innovation