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Neurocognitive enhancement: what can we do and what should we do?


Our growing ability to alter brain function can be used to enhance the mental processes of normal individuals as well as to treat mental dysfunction in people who are ill. The prospect of neurocognitive enhancement raises many issues about what is safe, fair and otherwise morally acceptable. This article resulted from a meeting on neurocognitive enhancement that was held by the authors. Our goal is to review the state of the art in neurocognitive enhancement, its attendant social and ethical problems, and the ways in which society can address these problems.

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This paper is based, in part, on a meeting held at the New York Academy of Sciences in June 2003, supported by a grant to J.I. from the National Science Foundation with co-sponsorship of a Mushett Family Foundation grant to the Academy. The writing of this paper was supported by NSF and NIH grants to M.J.F. and an NIH grant and a Greenwald Foundation grant to J.I.

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Correspondence to Martha J. Farah or Judy Illes.

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E.K. is a co-founder and Chariman of the scientific board of directors of Memory Pharmaceuticals.

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Martha Farah's homepage

Judy Illes's homepage

Howard Gardner's homepage

Eric Kandel's laboratory

Patricia King's homepage

Barbara Sahakian's homepage

Paul Root Wolpe

NYAS e-briefing on neuroethics

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Farah, M., Illes, J., Cook-Deegan, R. et al. Neurocognitive enhancement: what can we do and what should we do?. Nat Rev Neurosci 5, 421–425 (2004).

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