Observations: Research with humans proceeds after careful assessment of the risks and benefits. In assessing whether risks are justified by potential benefits in both invasive and noninvasive neural device research, the following categories of potential risks should be considered: those related to surgery, hardware, stimulation, research itself, privacy and security, and financial burdens. All 3 of the standard pillars of informed consent—disclosure, capacity, and voluntariness—raise challenges in neural device research. Among these challenges are the need to plan for appropriate disclosure of information about atypical and emerging risks of neural devices, a structured evaluation of capacity when that is in doubt, and preventing patients from feeling unduly pressured to participate. Researchers and funders should anticipate participants’ posttrial needs linked to study participation and take reasonable steps to facilitate continued access to neural devices that benefit participants. Possible mechanisms for doing so are explored here. Depending on the study, researchers and funders may have further posttrial responsibilities.
Conclusions and Relevance: This ethical analysis and points to consider may assist researchers, institutional review boards, funders, and others engaged in human neural device research.