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September 30, 2003
Bravo for Better Brains
Scientific American's September special issue "Better Brains" provides some important detail on several aspects of our emerging neurosociety. Here I've highlighted each article's key point and put a link to a Brain Waves post where I came to similar conclusions.
- A Vote for Neuroethics - the editors - "Do we really need another subdiscipline of a subdiscipline? After all, we have bioethics..." "Our vote is a decided yes for moving ahead. The technologies of the mind and brain are special..." Accelerating the Neuroethics Discussion
- The Domesticated Savage - Micheal Shermer - "Like foxes, humans have become more agreeable as we've become more domesticated."...A plausable evolutionary hypothesis suggests itself: limited resources led to the selection for within-group cooperation and between group competition in humans...this bodes well if we can continue to expand the circle of whom we consider to be part of our in-group" A Relative Emotional Gauge
- Ultimate Self-Improvement - Gary Stix - "More important, the technology (brain imaging), perhaps coupled with genetic testing will create a more sound basis for diagnosing brain disorders." Neurotechnology will Define Mental Disorders
- Brain, Repair Yourself - Fred H. Gage - "The challenge now is to learn more about the specific growth factors that govern the various steps of neurogenesis -- the birth of new cells, the migration of newborn cells to the correct spots, and the maturation of the cells into neurons..." Neurons Love to "Kiss and Run"
- The Quest for a Smart Pill - Stephen S. Hall - "...there are four million Americans with Alzheimer's disease, another 12 million with a condition called mild cognitive decline and approximately 76 million Americans older than 50, many of whom may satisfy a recent FDA definition for age-associated memory impairment (AAMI), a mild form of forgetfulness." Cogniceuticals to Enhance Memory
- Stimulating the Brain - Mark S. George - "...the use of rTMS (repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) as a treatment for depression is still considered experimental by the FDA...(but) has already been sanctioned for use in Canada..." Stimulating a Smarter You?
- Mind Readers - Philip Ross - "Should this concept-recognition system work with even minimal reliability, it might be coupled with lie-detecting fMRI software to produce a much more sophisticated tool. In principle, law-enforcement officers might use.." When will the Feds Mandate Brain Scans?
- Taming Stress - Robert Sapolsky - "...such insight carries with it a social imperative: namely, that we find ways to heal a world in which so many people learn that they must always feel watchful and on guard or that they must always feel helpless." Dear Mr. President
- Diagnosing Disorders - Steven E. Hyman - "By combining neuroimaging with genetic studies, physicians may eventually be able to move psychiatric diagnosis out of the realm of symptom checklists and into the domain of objective medical tests." Neurotechnology will Define Mental Disorders
- Is Better Best? - Arthur L. Caplan - "It is the essence of humanness to try to improve the world and oneself...the answer is not prohibiting improvement." "It is ensuring that enhancement is always done by choice, not dictated by others." "Market-driven societies encourage improvement. Religious and secular cultures alike reward those who seek betterment; every religion on the planet sees the improvement of oneself and one's children as a moral obligation. If anything, the impending revolution in our knowledge of the brain will require us to build the legal and social institutions that allow fair access to all those who choose to do what most will feel is the right thing to do." Neuroethics: The Battle for Your Mind
Interesting crossover to say the least. In my forthcoming book -- Brain Wave: Our Emerging Neurosociety, I build on these issues to weave the future of business, geopolitics and culture in a world driven by neurotechnology.
| Category: Neurosociety
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