Full course description
Humans have always explored ways to enhance their mental capacities. For the largest part of human history, efforts primarily involved external devices that aid cognition such as written language, mathematics, and ultimately smartphones. Recently, however, the potential of cognitive enhancement by manipulation of the brain caught a lot of attention. With cognitive enhancers becoming increasingly available to the general public, this is a highly relevant topic for psychologists and neuroscientists alike. In this course, students will learn about various ways to enhance cognition covering a broad range of approaches. The focus will be on current hot topics such as brain stimulation, neuro-feedback, smart drugs, and meditation. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to critically discuss the scientific basis of other (potential) cognitive enhancers such as sleep, hypnosis, nutrition, physical exercise, and neuro-linguistic programming. Lastly, the possibility of cognitive enhancement poses ethical questions that will be discussed. At the end of this course, students will have basic knowledge of the potential, current limitations, and risks of cognitive enhancement.
After completion of the course, students will:
- understand the basic mechanisms of several brain-based cognitive enhancers;
- know about the efficacy and side effects of these cognitive enhancers;
- be able to discuss the benefits and costs of cognitive enhancers on the individual and societal level based on various ethical perspectives.