About the Contest

The Neuroethics Essay Contest encourages students and trainees to examine the ethical concerns in research, law, and policy related to the mind and brain. By seeking essays that bring original perspectives to neuroethics discourse, the contest raises awareness of the neuroethics discipline among the next generation.

The contest is held annually and is organized by the members of the Student/Postdoc Committee of the International Neuroethics Society (INS) and editors of the IYNA Journal, published by the International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA).

The contest is open to any student in high school or secondary school, any post-secondary student, and any postdoctoral fellow or similar early-career trainee. See the latest call for essays for an overview about author eligibility, essay topics, and submission instructions.

Essays & Topics

The contest has three submission categories: Academic, General Audience, and the High School Competition. Each category requires a different type of essay with a different word count. See the call for essays for a description of each category.

Essay submissions can cover any topic in neuroethics and should address a focused problem at the intersections of the mind and brain sciences, ethics, and law. Example topics include, but are not limited to: neuroenhancement, neurolaw, moral psychology, brain stimulation, ethics of neurodegenerative illness, neurotechnology policy and regulation, philosophy of mind, clinical ethics in psychiatry and neurosurgery, neural imaging, big data and neuroscience, brain–computer interaction, military applications of neurotechnology, and free will.

Authors are encouraged to take creative approaches with their essays, and may review previous winning essays for examples of neuroethics topics and essay structures.


The contest is made possible with support from members, friends, and patrons of the neuroethics community. Thanks to everyone from this dynamic, diverse, and growing discipline who contributes time and donates funds to this annual activity.

Dr. Michael Patterson presenting awards at the 2019 INS Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL, USA

Especially important in the creation and sustained success of the contest has been the generous support of Dr. Michael Patterson, former editor of the Kopf Carrier and long-time supporter of neuroethics.

We are saddened to share the news that Dr. Michael Patterson recently passed. Those wishing to support the contest in his honor, can do so by requesting your donation to the International Neuroethics Society be used for ‘essay contest prizes’ in honor of ‘Dr. Patterson’. Thank you!


The INS started the contest to promote academic interest in neuroethics among students and early-career trainees around the world. The contest has recognized at least two authors for outstanding scholarship each year since 2014.

The General Audience category was added to the contest in 2017 to encourage the practice of communicating science to the public. In 2019, eligibility was extended to high school students with the help of the IYNA.