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Posts Tagged "cognitive enhancement"

Observations

Lucy Film Hinges on Brain Capacity Myth

Scarlett Johansson as Lucy

On July 25, French film writer/director Luc Besson’s action thriller Lucy opens in theaters nationwide. The premise is that the title character, played by Scarlett Johansson, is exposed to a drug that unlocks her mind, giving her superhuman powers of cognition.  The movie production notes [PDF] elaborate: “…It has long been hypothesized that human beings only [...]

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Observations

Davos: X Marks the Unknown

Earlier this month, the World Economic Forum published its annual report on global risks, “Global Risks 2013: Eighth Edition.” At the 2013 WEF meeting at Davos, a session focused on emerging threats, called “X Factors: Preparing for the Unknown.” My colleague Philip Campbell, the editor in chief of Nature, and his colleague editors, identified these [...]

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Observations

Ethical Questions Surround “Electrical Thinking Cap” That Improves Mental Functions

What if a drug could improve learning and cognition and had no untoward medical consequences? Wouldn’t it be justified to make it widely available? A group of scientists concluded three years ago that it would be. No such drug exists, but the question arises anew because of a brain-stimulation technique that appears on paper to [...]

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Observations

Ritalin and Other Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs Probably Won’t Make You Smarter

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7a/Ritalin-SR-20mg-full.jpg/240px-Ritalin-SR-20mg-full.jpg

On Monday, I put up a post on whether we would ever be able to upload our brains into a computer, merging ourselves into the great digital Singularity that would provide us with eternal life—and virtually infinite sensory powers and intelligence. The take home: This is akin to a cargo cult-like religion. Don’t hold your [...]

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Observations

Aerobic exercise bulks up hippocampus, improving memory in older adults

older adults walking increase size of hippocampus, improve memory

Many studies have linked exercise with improved brain health later in life. Now a new controlled trial reveals more about how aerobic activity might be helping to bolster the brain by beefing up the hippocampus. As we age, parts of the brain tend to shrink—even in the absence of neurocognitive diseases, such as dementia or [...]

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Observations

Can electrical brain stimulation really make you better at math–and is it less painful than learning calculus?

difficulty with math electical stimulation

A light electrical current just above the right ear seems to improve numerical learning for at least six months, according to a new study. But if the current is moved to the left side, average peoples’ ability to learn basic numerical principles plummets. The group behind the new study, led by Roi Cohen Kadosh, a [...]

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Talking back

Get Smart by Using 10 Percent Less of Your Brain

The movie Lucy has become a teaching moment in the last month or so for scientists and journalists to  remind the world—time and again—that we don’t just use 10 percent of our brains. All of the three pounds of jelly underneath our hardened domes is there for a good reason. It’s not just a terabyte [...]

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Talking back

2 Hydrogens and 1 Oxygen–a Recipe for Cognitive Enhancement?

Bioethicists have engaged in endless hand wringing in recent years about whether substances that purportedly allow us to remember and process information more efficiently should be available to everyone, not just kids with ADHD. If you can make your brain work better in some way that doesn’t entail poring over a pre-calculus text for hours, [...]

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