A somewhat different
type of mind extension, which I will touch on here only in passing, is
the use of cognition-enhancing drugs by healthy people, particularly by
college students. Greeley et al. (2008) report that
more and more students are routinely taking drugs such as Ritalin and
Adderal that "increase executive functions" and "improve
their abilities to focus their attention, manipulate information in working
memory and flexibly control their responses" ("Paths to Enhancement,"
¶1). The authors, a group of respected scientists and ethicists, support
this practice, encouraging the responsible use of "cognitive enhancement
tools—including the pharmacological," by healthy people, claiming
the drugs "will be increasingly useful for improved quality of life
and extended work productivity, as well as to stave off normal and pathological
age related cognitive declines" (Greeley et al. 2008, "Conclusion,"
¶1). Even pharmacological cognitive enhancement can be seen as an outgrowth
of digital enhancements: modern synthesized cognition-enhancing drugs
would not be possible without the digital tools for creating them.
Greeley, H., B. Sahakian,
J. Harris, R. C. Kessler, M. Gazzaniga, P. Campbell, and M. J. Farah.
2008. Toward responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy.
Nature 456:702-705. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/456702a.html
(accessed January 28, 2009). Archived at http://www.webcitation.org/5eBMEmOlH.