Cognitive Enhancement

Thomas Metzinger and Elisabeth Hildt

in Oxford Handbook of Neuroethics

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199570706
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Cognitive Enhancement

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology


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Cognitive enhancement aims at optimizing a specific class of information-processing functions: cognitive functions, physically realized by the human brain. This article deals with ethical issues in cognitive enhancement (CE). It discusses some standard conceptual issues related to the notion of “cognitive enhancement” and then continues from a purely descriptive point of view by briefly reviewing some empirical aspects and sketching the current situation. Several enhancement strategies are being tested and used. Then the chapter offers some reflections on the treatment or enhancement distinction. It turns to normative issues by describing standard topics in current debates, then highlighting three examples of relevant novel questions under an ethical perspective. It is of central importance to be able to draw on long-term studies yielding data on the benefits, risks, and side-effects involved in the use of such substances over months and years. It concludes by making some general proposals for policy makers.

Keywords: cognitive enhancement; ethical issues; empirical aspects; information-processing; policy makers

Article.  10209 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Clinical Psychology

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