You might have missed neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist, Marcel Kinsbourne, professor at The New School, when he answered the Edge question in 2009, but do not worry, I didn’t. He described the new area of Neurocosmetics, and whether you know what the hell that is or not, it undoubtedly sounds pretty darn interesting. And it definitely is. The field of Neurocosmetics is about changing the human brain through medicine or technology, and not only about correcting psychopathology, as Kinsbourne puts it. It is also about improving our minds using psychoactive drugs, psychosurgery, electroshock, even what we eat, drink and smoke as well a the new tech on the block Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). Even today you can actually buy so called Nootropics, cognitive enhancing drugs like Adderall and Ritalin on the internet.
In his book The Neuro Revolution, neuro entrepreneur Zach Lynch delves into the future of the brain industry and mentions strange statistics that 3 to 7 per cent of american college student have actively taken performance enhancing drugs, mostly ADHD drugs.
Marcel Kinsbourne paints a lominous picture of the future:
The example of cosmetic plastic surgery is instructive. Reconstructive in its origins, it is increasingly used for cosmetic purposes. I predict the same shift for deep brain stimulation. Cosmetic surgery is used to render people more appealing. In human affairs, appearance is critical. For our hypersocial species, personal appeal opens doors that remain shut to mere competence and intellect. Undoubtedly, cosmetic surgery enhances quality of life, so how can it be denied to anyone? And yet, it is by its very nature deceptive; the operated face is not really the person’s face, the operated body not really their body. However, experience teaches that these reservations as to authenticity remain theoretical. The cosmetically adjusted nose, breast, thighs or skin tones become the person’s new reality, without significant social backlash. Even face transplants are now feasible. We read so much into a face—but what if it is not the person’s ”real” face? Does anyone care, or even remember the previous appearance? So it will be with neurocosmetics.
Here is a great pice in the New Yorker about the topic and another blog post that analyzes the issues involved. I believe we have few if any ways of stopping people getting drugs that enhances their ability, since he spektrum runs from stimulants like caffenine and Paraxanthine to Ritalin or the velvet bean and other L-DOPA drugs like Sinemet, Parcopa.