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Enhancing Cognition: Prospects and Problems

Monday 25th February 17:30-18:30, Medical School Lecture Theatre - MD 0.01

Public Debate with Professor Gary Lynch, University of California

  • 'Enhancing Cognition: Prospects and Problems'

It is generally held that the great intelligence of humans reflects
intense evolutionary pressures beginning some 5 million years ago and
continuing into the recent past. A reasonable corollary is that
artificial enhancements will be difficult and likely to create
disturbances of mental life. I will propose that these arguments are
fundamentally flawed, and that plausible technologies for cognitive
enhancement may have already appeared. Extraordinary advances in the
brain sciences recently produced the first outlines of a ‘standard
model’ of how memories are encoded and seem to be on the edge of
generating the first maps of where they are stored in the cortex.
These developments are being quickly followed by experimental
manipulations, including drugs, which accelerate learning and improve
retention. In at least one case, these entirely new treatments have
been tested successfully in humans. Thus the question we may soon
face is not whether it’s possible to expand cognition but when it
will happen. But expansion very likely means different, and so brings
with it unprecedented philosophical questions.

The debate will be chaired by Vice-Chancellor Prof Nigel Thrift with Prof Colin Blakemore as discussant.

Organised by the Neuroscience and Society Network at Warwick

Contact Bruno Frenguelli: b.g.frenguelli@warwick.ac.uk for further information

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