Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New Dope on "Cognitive Enhancement"

Well, the world works in mysterious ways. April 1 this year, I coordinated a blogosphere hoax regarding the NIH cracking down on brain doping. See Confessions of an April Fool and the Dope on Brain Doping for more detail. And then Nature and many other publications wrote about brain doping when Nature published the results of a survey suggesting many academics take cognitive enhancing drugs. And now, perhpas most interestingly, a group has written a letter to Nature has published a commentary arguing for more research into " responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy"

From their conclusion:
Like all new technologies, cognitive enhancement can be used well or poorly. We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function. In a world in which human workspans and lifespans are increasing, cognitive enhancement tools — including the pharmacological — will be increasingly useful for improved quality of life and extended work productivity, as well as to stave off normal and pathological age-related cognitive declines. Safe and effective cognitive enhancers will benefit both the individual and society.

But it would also be foolish to ignore problems that such use of drugs could create or exacerbate. With this, as with other technologies, we need to think and work hard to maximize its benefits and minimize its harms

On the one hand I agree that more work in this area is good. On the other hand, people compete all the time based upon cognitive performance. The article discusses thesae and other issues and is worth looking at. As I am on Campus right now I am not sure if the letter is Open Access or not, but I hope it is.

See also
Hat tip to Bora for pointing this out.


  1. The competing financial interests statement should be noted...

    "Declaration: B.S. consults for a number of pharmaceutical companies and Cambridge Cognition, and holds shares in CeNeS. R.C.K. consults for and has received grants from a number of pharmaceutical companies."

  2. thanks for pointing it out; looks like the piece is free access.