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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 Sep 19;370(1677):20140214. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0214.

The impact of neuroscience on society: cognitive enhancement in neuropsychiatric disorders and in healthy people.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Herchel Smith Building for Brain and Mind Sciences, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK MRC/Wellcome Trust Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK bjs1001@medschl.cam.ac.uk.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Herchel Smith Building for Brain and Mind Sciences, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK MRC/Wellcome Trust Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Psychiatric Hospital, University of Zurich, Lenggstrasse 31, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland.
3
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Herchel Smith Building for Brain and Mind Sciences, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK.
4
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Herchel Smith Building for Brain and Mind Sciences, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK CAMEO North Team, 3 Thorpe Road, Peterborough PE3 6AN, UK.
5
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Herchel Smith Building for Brain and Mind Sciences, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK CAMEO South Team, Block 7, Ida Darwin Site, Fulbourn, Cambridge CB21 5EE, UK.
6
Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, Herchel Smith Building for Brain and Mind Sciences, Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0SZ, UK MRC/Wellcome Trust Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.

Abstract

In addition to causing distress and disability to the individual, neuropsychiatric disorders are also extremely expensive to society and governments. These disorders are both common and debilitating and impact on cognition, functionality and wellbeing. Cognitive enhancing drugs, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and methylphenidate, are used to treat cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, respectively. Other cognitive enhancers include specific computerized cognitive training and devices. An example of a novel form of cognitive enhancement using the technological advancement of a game on an iPad that also acts to increase motivation is presented. Cognitive enhancing drugs, such as methylphenidate and modafinil, which were developed as treatments, are increasingly being used by healthy people. Modafinil not only affects 'cold' cognition, but also improves 'hot' cognition, such as emotion recognition and task-related motivation. The lifestyle use of 'smart drugs' raises both safety concerns as well as ethical issues, including coercion and increasing disparity in society. As a society, we need to consider which forms of cognitive enhancement (e.g. pharmacological, exercise, lifelong learning) are acceptable and for which groups (e.g. military, doctors) under what conditions (e.g. war, shift work) and by what methods we would wish to improve and flourish.

KEYWORDS:

cognitive enhancers; cognitive training; game; neuroethics; schizophrenia; smart drugs

PMID:
26240429
PMCID:
PMC4528826
DOI:
10.1098/rstb.2014.0214
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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