Dimensions of Cognitive Enhancement: Hacking the Brain | 88967

Clinical and Experimental Psychology


Dimensions of Cognitive Enhancement: Hacking the Brain

Clark Jones*

Demands for cognitive functioning are gradually increasing in an increasingly sophisticated information culture. Several ways to improve brain function have been developed in recent years. Evidence of their effectiveness (or lack thereof) and adverse effects has sparked debates concerning their ethical, societal, and medical consequences. In public discourse, cognitive improvement is frequently portrayed as a onesize-fits-all occurrence. However, upon closer examination, cognitive enhancement reveals itself to be a multidimensional concept: there is no single cognitive enhancer that improves brain function, but rather a wide range of interventions that can be grouped into biochemical, physical, and behavioral enhancement strategies. These cognitive enhancers differ in terms of mechanism of action, cognitive domains they target, time scales they work on, availability and side effects, and how they affect different groups of people. We unravel the aspects of cognitive improvement, evaluate important examples of cognitive enhancers that differ across these dimensions, and present a framework for both theoretical and empirical study in the process.