Enhancing Young Brains in Contemporary Family Life: Exploring the Context and Scope of Pediatric Neuro-enhancement

  • Cliodhna O’ConnorEmail author
Part of the Advances in Neuroethics book series (AIN)


This chapter argues that pediatric neuro-enhancement decisions cannot meaningfully be abstracted from their contextualization within contemporary cultures of parenting, which are inextricably connected with dynamics of nationality, gender, and class. Thus far, most empirical investigation of pediatric neuro-enhancement has focused on how parents of children with neurocognitive disorders engage with enhancement technologies. Very little research explores how people might seek to enhance healthy children’s brains by adapting daily decisions about nutrition, leisure, and education routines. This chapter reviews the current state of knowledge regarding the day-to-day realities of such efforts to enhance children’s brains. It pays particular attention to two empirical studies that shed some light on everyday manifestations of pediatric neuro-enhancement ideas: a study of British press coverage of brain research, and interviews with members of the British public. Newspaper analysis shows that pediatric neuro-enhancement receives considerable media coverage and that this content reproduces cultural ideals and preconceptions regarding parents and families. However, the extent to which this media discourse resonates in the everyday lives of the lay public remains uncertain. The chapter argues that understanding the promises and perils of emerging neuro-enhancement technologies requires more research illuminating how they might interact with the dynamics of contemporary family life.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity College DublinDublinIreland

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