Micaela Diaz Case 1: The Psychology Department is requesting permission from your committee to use 10 rats per semester for demonstrations in a physiological psychology class. The students will work in groups of three: each group will be given a rat. The students will first perform surgery on the rats. Each animal with be anesthetized. Following standard surgical procedures, an incision will be made in the scalp and two holes drilled in the animal’s skull. Electrodes will be lowered into the brain to create lesions on each side. The animals will then be allowed to recover.
Several weeks later, the effects of destroying this part of the animal’s brain will be tested in a shuttle avoidance task in which animals will learn when to cross over an electrified grid. The instructor admits the procedure is a common demonstration and that no new information will be gained from the experiment. She argues, however, that students taking a course in psychology must have the opportunity to engage in small animal surgery to see firsthand the effects of brain legions. Response: If I were a part of the Committee, I would definitely deny this request.
This is not an ethical experiment because the students will be crippling the rats by purposefully inducing brain lesions. It is cruel and unethical to also, after inducing brain lesions within the rat’s brains, to test them in the shuttle avoidance task in which “the animals will learn when they have to cross over an electrified grid. ” Not only do they mention themselves they will be “destroying” a part of the animal’s brain, but also they lack a clear scientific purpose. The instructor admits to saying no new information will be learned; therefore it goes against Rule 1 of the APA Ethic guidelines for Animal Research.
Case 2: Your university includes a college of veterinary medicine. In the past, the students practiced surgical techniques on dogs acquired from a local animal shelter. There have been some objections to this practice and the veterinary school wants the approval of your committee to continue this practice. They make the following points: Almost all of the animals will eventually be killed at the animal shelter. It is wasteful of life to breed animals for the vet school when there is an ample supply of animals that will be euthanized anyway. It costs at least 10 times as much to breed animals for research purposes.
Research with dogs from animal shelters and the practice surgeries will, in the long run, aid the lives of animals by training veterinarians. A local group of animal welfare activists demanded that you deny the school’s request. They argue that the majority of these animals are lost or stolen pets and it is tragic to think that previously loved dogs could end up on a surgical table for an experiment. Furthermore, they claim that as people become aware that animals taken to shelters may end up in research laboratories, they will stop using the shelters and simply set these animals free. Response:
Over all, I have to say this is also unethical. First off, they lack a clear scientific purpose and the researchers have not asked a specific or important scientific question. Also, the location of where they obtain these dogs is unethical. By the APA guidelines, it is said the animals may be obtained through accredited companies which in this case is not a Homeless Animal Shelter. The comment stating, “Almost all of the animals will eventually be killed at the animal shelter. It is wasteful of life to breed animals for the vet school when there is an ample supply of animals that will be euthanized anyway. That is not their call to make, in the long run. It is still strictly unethical. They are professionally no one to say that because the animals will be killed at the shelter and euthanized anyway, that they have rights to then take opportunity of that misfortune to aid their research. The next statement saying, “It costs at least 10 times as much to breed animals for research purposes. ” If that’s what it takes to be proven an ethical experiment, then that 10 times cost will have to be paid. Practicality is not exception for ethical research. Case 3: Dr.
Hames is requesting permission to do a sleep deprivation study involving young children. He has hypothesized that children between the ages of five and seven need uninterrupted sleep to do well with basic memory functions. He has proposed a study where children in this age category will be awakened each hour during one night in his laboratory, and then tested on basic memory abilities. These results will then be compared with those obtained after a normal night of sleep. He is offering parents a $250 incentive if they will agree to allow their children to participate in this study.
The children will be given a gift card to a local toy store for their participation. Response: In this case, there are ethical and non-ethical aspects detected in this experiment. The unethical aspects of this experiment consist of Dr. Hames offering the parents of the children a $250 incentive if they will agree to allow their children to participate in this study. Rule 1 of the APA Ethics Guideline for Human Research states that no coercion must be performed and that participation must be absolutely voluntary. Offering money to the parents and a gift card to a local toy store almost seems like bribery and therefore falls under coercion.
Touching upon the risk factors, although the participants will experience temporary discomfort, there is no long term mental or physical harm that can come to the children by a one night sleep deprivation experiment. Over all, this seems to appear to be ethical, although I am not sure if compensation is considered ethical. Case 4: Professor Lennon is planning to do a research study to show the outcome of a serious back injury involving the spine and the possible effects on the part of the brain affecting balance and coordination.
To conduct her study, she will need volunteers to have a painful spinal tap procedure which would simulate the damage associated with severe back injuries. The spinal taps have a slight chance of causing severe pain that could last for several days. There is also a very slight risk of nerve damage that could cause some short-term paralysis. Subjects will be informed of the risks involved and will be paid $1200 for the spinal tap and for a six night stay that will be required to evaluate the outcome after this procedure.
This is also one of those cases where some things are ethical and others not. The fact that the spinal taps will cause severe pain that could last for days sounds unethical, however, it if it is short term, some boards may consider it ethical, especially if the participants are briefed on the experiment before the experiment takes place and they are compliant. The chance that there is also risk of nerve damage that could cause short term paralysis is questionable. What is the operative term for “short term paralysis”?
By short term, does that mean 3 months? 2 weeks? 1 year? They are all temporary medically, but ethically, is it long term? Then again, the fact that the subjects will be informed of the risks beforehand and then compensated is sketchy. Is compensation considered ethical? That could be considered coercion, although if the participants agree, then it is voluntary. The harm and risk factor are the most concerning, because of the severity of the pain and the damage, because of this factor this does not appear to be ethical.