From Treating Mental Dysfunction to Neuroenhancement

  • Michael KochEmail author
Part of the Happiness Studies Book Series book series (HAPS)


Progress in psychopharmacology over recent years has increased not only the possibilities of treating mental dysfunction but also of enhancing cognitive performance and happiness in healthy adults. This chapter reviews the neurobiological basis of drugs that are currently used to treat neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or addiction. It outlines how these drugs can improve mental processes and emotional states, e.g., by binding to specific receptors, inhibiting the uptake or metabolism of neurotransmitters. The contours of a cosmetic psychopharmacology similar to plastic surgery or fertility medicine are becoming visible as drugs like Prozac or Modafinil spread among the healthy population. Ethical, legal and social concerns associated with “brain doping” to maximize cognitive functioning and well-being are at a nascent stage but a broad discussion is needed now.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Synaptic Cleft Exposure Therapy Cognitive Enhancer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Badiani A, Bellin D, Epstein D, Calu D, Shaham Y (2011) Opiate versus psychostimulant addiction: the differences do matter. Nat Rev Neurosci 12:685–700CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barbano MF, Cador M (2007) Opioids for hedonic experience and dopamine to get ready for it. Psychopharmacology 191:497–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barco A, Pittenger C, Kandel ER (2003) CREB, memory enhancement and the treatment of memory disorders: promises, pitfalls and prospects. Exp Opinions Ther Targets 7:101–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartels A, Zeki S (2000) The neural basis of romantic love. NeuroReport 11:3829–3834CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berridge KC (2007) The debate over dopamine′s role in reward: the case for incentive salience. Psychopharmacology 191:391–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blood AJ, Zatorre RJ (2001) Intensely pleasurable responses to music correlate with activity in brain regions implicated in reward and emotion. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 98:11818–11823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Breiter HC, Aharon I, Kahneman D, Dale A, Shizgal P (2001) Functional imaging of neural responses to expectancy and experience of monetary gains and losses. Neuron 30:619–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Briand LA, Gritton H, Howe WM, Young DA, Sarter M (2007) Modulators in concert for cognition: modulator interactions in the prefrontal cortex. Prog Neurobiol 83:69–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Caspi A, Moffitt TE, Cannon M, McClay J, Murray R, Harrington H et al (2005) Moderation of the effect of adolescent-onset cannabis use on adult psychosis by a functional polymorphism in the catechol-O-methyltransferase gene: longitudinal evidence of a gene x environment interaction. Biol Psychiatry 57:1117–1127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chamberlain SR, Müller U, Blackwell AD, Clark L, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ (2006a) Neurochemical modulation of response inhibition and probabilistic learning in humans. Science 311:861–863CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chamberlain SR, Muller U, Robbins TW, Sahakian BJ (2006b) Neuropharmacological modulation of cognition. Curr Opin Neurol 19:607–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collingridge GL, Isaac JTR, Wang YT (2004) Receptor trafficking and synaptic plasticity. Nat Rev Neurosci 5:952–962CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cooper JR, Bloom FE, Roth RH (2003) The biochemical basis of neuropharmacology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  14. Courtney C, Farrell D, Gray R (2004) Long-term donepezil treatment in 565 patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD2000): randomized double-blind trail. Lancet 363:2105–2115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Creese I, Burt DR, Snyder SH (1976) Dopamine receptor binding predicts clinical and pharmacological potencies of antischizophrenic drugs. Science 192:481–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Crow TJ (1990) The continuum of psychosis and its genetic origins. Br J Psychiatry 156:788–797CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dalley JW, Cardinal RN, Robbins TW (2004) Prefrontal executive and cognitive functions in rodents: neural and neurochemical substrates. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 28:771–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davis KL, Charney D, Coyle JT, Nemeroff CB (2002) Neuropsychopharmacology: the fifth generation of progress. Lippincott Williams & Willkins, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  19. Davis M, Myers KM, Chhatwal J, Ressler KJ (2006) Pharmacological treatments that facilitate extinction of fear: relevance to psychotherapy. NeuroRx 3:82–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Elliott R, Sahakian BJ, Matthews K, Bannerjea A, Rimmer J, Robbins TW (1997) Effects of methylphenidate on spatial working memory and planning in healthy young adults. Psychopharmacology 131:196–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Everitt BJ, Wolf ME (2002) Psychomotor stimulant addiction: a neural systems perspective. J Neurosci 22:3312–3320Google Scholar
  22. Farah MJ (2012) Neuroethics: the ethical, legal, and societal impact of neuroscience. Annu Rev Psychol 10:571–591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Greely H, Sahakian B, Harris J, Kessler RC, Gazzaniga M, Campbell P, Farah MJ (2008) Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy. Nature 456:702–705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hillman CH, Erickson KI, Kramer AF (2008) Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nat Rev Neurosci 9:58–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huxley A (1932) Brave new world. Chatto & Windus Ltd., Great BritainGoogle Scholar
  26. Kandel ER (1991) Cellular mechanisms of learning and the biological basis of individuality. In: Kandel ER, Schwartz JH, Jessell TM (eds) Principles of neural science. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 1009–1032Google Scholar
  27. Kelley AE, Berridge KC (2002) The neuroscience of natural rewards: relevance to addictive drugs. J Neurosci 22:3306–3311Google Scholar
  28. Kirsch P, Esslinger C, Chen Q, Mier D, Lis S, Siddhanti S et al (2005) Oxytocin modulates neural circuitry for social cognition of fear in humans. J Neurosci 25:11489–11493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Knutson B, Adams CM, Fong GW, Hommer D (2001) Anticipation of increasing monetary reward selectively recruits nucleus accumbens. J Neurosci 21:1–5Google Scholar
  30. Koch M (2007) On the effects of partial agonists of dopamine receptors for the treatment of schizophrenia. Pharmacopsychiatry 40:34–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kramer PD (1993) Listening to Prozac. Viking Penguin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Loewenstein G, Rick S, Cohen JD (2008) Neuroeconomics. Annu Rev Psychol 59:647–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lynch G (2002) Memory enhancement: the search for mechanism-based drugs. Nat Neurosci 5:1035–1038CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Malenka RC, Nicoll RA (1999) Long-term potentiation—a decade of progress? Science 285:1870–1874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mattay VS, Goldberg TE, Fera F, Hariri AR, Tessitore A, Egan MF et al (2003) Catechol O-methyltransferase val 158-met genotype and individual variation in the brain response to amphetamine. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 100:6186–6191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McCabe SE, Knight JR, Teter CJ, Wechsler H (2005) Non-medical use of prescription stimulants among US college students: prevalence and correlates from a national survey. Addiction 100:96–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McClure SM, Montague PR (2004) The neural substrates of reward processing in humans: the modern role of fMRI. Neuroscientist 10:260–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McKernan RM, Rosahl TW, Reynolds DS, Sur C, Wafford KA, Atack JR et al (2000) Sedative but not anxiolytic properties of benzodiazepines are mediated by the GABAA receptor α1 subtype. Nat Neurosci 3:587–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Meyer-Lindenberg A, Domes G, Kirsch P, Heinrichs M (2011) Oxytocin and vasopressin in the human brain: social neuropeptides for translational medicine. Nat Rev Neurosci 12:524–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Olds J (1956) Pleasure centers in the brain. Sci Am 195:105–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Olds J, Milner P (1954) Positive reinforcement produced by electrical stimulation of septal area and other regions of the brain. J Comp Physiol Psychol 47:419–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. O’Donovan MC, Craddock N, Owens MJ (2009) Genetics of psychosis; insights from views across the genome. Hum Genet 126:3–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Platt ML, Huettel SA (2008) Risky business: the neuroeconomics of decision making under uncertainty. Nat Neurosci 11:398–403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rensing L, Koch M, Becker A (2009) A comparative approach to the principal mechanisms of different memory systems. Naturwissenschaften 96:1373–1384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ressler KJ, Rothbaum BO, Tannenbaum L, Anderson P, Graap K, Zimand E et al (2004) Cognitive enhancers as adjuncts to psychotherapy: use of D-cycloserine in phobic individuals to facilitate extinction of fear. Arch Gen Psychiatry 61:298–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Robbins TW (2000) Chemical neuromodulation of frontal-executive functions in humans and other animals. Exp Brain Res 133:130–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Robinson AJ, Nestler EJ (2011) Transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms of addiction. Nat Rev Neurosci 12:623–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sacktor TC (2011) How does PHMζ maintain long-term memory? Nat Rev Neurosci 12:9–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schneider M, Koch M (2003) Chronic pubertal, but not adult chronic cannabinoid treatment impairs sensorimotor gating, recognition memory, and the performance in a progressive ratio task in adult rats. Neuropsychopharmacology 28:1760–1769CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Shin LM, Orr SP, Carson MA, Rauch SL, Macklin ML, Lasko NB et al (2004) Regional cerebral blood flow in the amygdala and medial prefrontal cortex during traumatic imagery in male and female Vietnam veterans with PTSD. Arch Gen Psychiatry 61:168–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Singh I (2008) Beyond polemics: science and ethics of ADHD. Nat Rev Neurosci 9:957–964CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Singh I, Kelleher KJ (2010) Neuroenhancement in young people: proposal for research, policy, and clinical management. AJOB Neurosci 1:3–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Smith ME, Farah MJ (2011) Are prescription stimulants “smart pills”? The epidemiology and cognitive neuroscience of prescription stimulant use by normal healthy individuals. Psychol Bull 137:717–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Turner DC, Robbins TW, Clark L, Aron AR, Dowson J, Sahakian BJ (2003) Cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology 165:260–269Google Scholar
  55. von Bohlen und Halbach O, Dermietzel R (2002) Neurotransmitters and Neuromodulators. Wiley, WeinheimCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Winterer G, Weinberger DR (2004) Genes, dopamine and cortical signal-to-noise ratio in schizophrenia. Trends in Neurosci 27:683–690CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brain Research Institute, Department of Neuropharmacology, Center for Cognitive Sciences COGNIUMUniversity of BremenBremenGermany

Personalised recommendations