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Cognitive Enhancement

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Symposium der Klasse IV – Geistes-, Sozial- und Verhaltenswissenschaften

Date: Thursday, 7. November 2019
Time: 13:00 to 20:00
Location: Vortragssaal der Leopoldina, Jägerberg 1, 06108 Halle (Saale)

Studies of the human mind commonly take their study object for granted and thus focus on the description or mechanistic explanation of how existing human minds operate. However, the recent years have revealed a multitude of techniques that allow people to extend their mental abilities beyond present limits. These techniques are sometimes applied to “repair” mental functions that were lost through natural development, such as aging, or to make existing training processes more efficient, such as in school. However, there is also an increasing interest in the question whether mental abilities should be extended just for the sake of extending them, be it at the service of personal fulfillment or for meeting particular demands. Doing so raises many practical and ethical questions that have fueled discussion within and outside science.

Unfortunately, these discussions are often negatively biased, especially in Germany. Whereas discussions in other countries tend to focus on the possibilities for the individual to fully unfold his or her potential, to help individuals to overcome possible limitations of their genetic setup, discussions in Germany often focus on possibly problematic implications for the individual and for society. This negative bias often emerges from a narrow focus on problematic cases of personal enhancement, such as the abuse of medication to improve performance, whereas much less problematic, and possibly enriching techniques like cognitive training or meditation are ignored. The often too narrow focus has also falsely suggested that enhancement takes place along one given dimension ranging from bad to good, which raises the misleading impression that the available enhancement techniques have the exact same goal and that they improve all mental abilities alike.

To provide a basis for a more rational, more open, and more realistic discussion, the presentations will provide introductions to some basic cognitive enhancement techniques, including brain stimulation, cognitive training, meditation, or specific foods, that can be rather flexibly used to improve various mental abilities. Pros and cons of these techniques will be discussed, including the ethical implications of cognitive enhancement.

Bild: peshkov – AdobeStock

Weitere Informationen und Anmeldung

Die Veranstaltung richtet sich an alle interessierten Personen, Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler sowie Studierende. Der Eintritt ist frei. Um eine Anmeldung wird gebeten.


Urkundenübergabe und Vorlesung der Klasse IV


Melanie Krähe
Assistentin der Abteilung Wissenschaft - Politik - Gesellschaft
E-Mail: melanie.kraehe@leopoldina.org
Tel.: 0345 - 47239865





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