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


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.

1 Like

One thing I’ve been going back to thinking about recently is the continued evolution of the human mind.

Carl Sagan was once speculating along the lines that the humans that will eventually travel to the stars will not be exactly like us. They will bare less of our flaws and more of our strengths.

I try to envision that kind of humanity and it gives me a lot of hope that a lot of the things that have bothered me throughout my life my actually change down the line.

However evolution has pretty much been halted in this society. While people can rise above economically and socially it doesn’t really indicate that they are better humans, more that they are built for this world. It also doesn’t insure that they will reproduce any more than anyone else who isn’t as fit for society. None of it is really a bad thing…

Which brings me to how this is relevant to the topic. It’s going to be more of a consciously enacted kind of therapy and social enlightenment that might bring humanity out of this largely competitive and individualistic society.

Ok so I guess it’s still not quite relevant but oh well.

1 Like

It’s interesting they mention modafinil. A promethease report based on my Dna suggests I would have little or no response to it.
Anything that can enhance cognition though is a good thing .

Please share more about this “promethease report”. Did it cost money? How did you get it.

I did find this on the web:

More info on it here:

Man, I personally just don’t like this mind hacking bs. That’s how people wind up with psychosis.

I know that crowd isn’t going to stop though. Just googled modafinil and the first article was some bigwig upstart who probably had a lot going for him other than taking modafinil. Even the writing seemed cracked out and overexcited.

Maybe it’s just subtle jealousy that’s making me think that way. That mentioning of theory of mind the other day has me questioning everything.

I got it via doing my autosomal dna for genealogical purposes via family tree dna . A health related addition to this is being able to upload the raw data to promethease to get a health report based on your snps . Doing the autosomal test is the expensive part. The actual promethease report itself costs $5.

Here are some of my schizophrenia related results: - C G variant 3x risk CC decreased risk in limited study;G) -increased risk in limited study - CC associated with herpes and schizophrenia;G) - GG 1.4x increased risk of schizophrenia;T) - TT 1,2x increased risk of schizophrenia;C) - A C decreased risk of schizophrenia in limited study;C) - C C associated with schizophrenia;T) - TT normal risk of developing schizophrenia;T) - 1.4 x higher risk of schizophrenia;T) - TT 1.1 x increased risk of schizophrenia - CC normal risk in limited study;T) - TT associated with creativity and has been linked with psychosis, poor memory and sensitivity to criticism;G) - slightly increased risk of schizophrenia - AA little or no response to modafanil , decreased cognitive performance under stress.

HMMM I didn’t think herpes had anything to do with genetics at all. Perhaps some people are more resistant than others.

I wouldn’t be opposed to trying a long acting stimulant if my doctor said it would help.