Towards a Smart Population: A Public Health Framework for Cognitive Enhancement
- 1.4k Downloads
This paper presents a novel view of the concept of cognitive enhancement by taking a population health perspective. We propose four main modifiable healthy lifestyle factors for optimal cognitive functioning across the population for which there is evidence of safety and efficacy. These include i) promoting adequate sleep, ii) increasing physical activity, iii) encouraging a healthy diet, including minimising consumption of stimulants, alcohol and other drugs including nicotine, iv) and promoting good mental health. We argue that it is not ethical to promote or sanction the use of pharmaceutical drugs as putative cognitive enhancers without acknowledging the adverse effects on population cognitive health of failing to encourage the pursuit of healthy behaviours. We conclude with recommendations to increase the public health relevance of bioethical analyses of the cognitive enhancement debate.
KeywordsCognitive enhancement Public health Sleep Physical activity Diet Mental health
This research was funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. The authors would like to thank Professor Wayne Hall for comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
- 6.Harris, John, and Anjan Chatterjee. 2009. Is it acceptable for people to take methylphenidate to enhance performance? British Medical Journal 338: 1532–1533.Google Scholar
- 8.British Medical Association. 2007. Boosting your brainpower: Ethical aspects of cognitive enhancement. London: British Medical Association.Google Scholar
- 9.Commission de l’Ethique de la Science et de la Technologie. 2009. Psychiatric Drugs and Expanded Uses: An Ethical Perspective.Google Scholar
- 18.Academy of Medical Sciences. 2008. Brain science, addiction and drugs. United Kingdom. ISBN No: 1-903401-18-6Google Scholar
- 23.Gruber, R., S.T. Wiebe, S.A. Wells, J. Cassoff, and E. Monson. 2010. Sleep and academic success: Mechanisms, empirical evidence, and interventional strategies. Adolescent Medicine: State of the Art Reviews 21(3): 522–541.Google Scholar
- 29.Esch, Tobias, and George B. Stefano. 2010. The neurobiology of stress management. Neuro Endocrinology Letters 31(1): 19–39.Google Scholar
- 30.Etnier, J. 2009. Physical activity programming to promote cognitive function: Are we ready for prescription? In Enhancing cognitive functioning and brain plasticity, ed. W. Chodzko-Zajko, A.F. Kramer, and L.W. Poon, 159–175. Champaign: Human Kinetics.Google Scholar
- 35.Bauman, A., F. Bull, T. Chey, C.L. Craig, B.E. Ainsworth, J.F. Sallis, H.R. Bowles, et al. 2009. The International Prevalence Study on Physical Activity: Results from 20 countries. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 6(1): 21. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-6-21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 37.Benton, D., P. Winichagoon, T.P. Ng, E.S. Tee, and M. Isabelle. 2012. Symposium on nutrition and cognition: Towards research and application for different life stages. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 21(1): 104–124.Google Scholar
- 49.Avitzur, O. 2010. Will a pill boost your brain power? Consumer Reports 75(3): 12.Google Scholar
- 51.Sahakian, B.J., and S. Morein-Zamir. 2010. Neuroethical issues in cognitive enhancement. Journal of Psychopharmacology. doi: 10.1177/0269881109106926.