Sahakian and Morein-Zamir encourage us to explore a range of new issues raised by their reflections (Nature 450, 1157; 2007). In particular, we need to develop legal and social policies to guide the setting of parameters and milestones for integrating new enhancing technologies into healthcare for treatment — and into society for non-therapeutic application.

Policy-making is complex. It becomes even more so when the priorities of different healthcare systems come into play, which are inevitably influenced by the commercial interests of big-business pharmaceutical companies. One-size-fits-all policies will not work because of the range of multicultural factors that also need to be taken into consideration. For example, blanket regulation of cognitive enhancers will not play out evenly where socioeconomic status determines ease of access.

Sahakian and Morein-Zamir call for better drugs. Our call is for next-generation research and translation that is focused on regulatory policies. Those policies should recognize the differential impact of drugs on different segments of society. They should protect people from impulsive quick fixes and against vulnerabilities arising from short-sighted solutions.