Image: Anne MacNamara

Though not suffering from any particular ailment, a 70-year-old woman becomes frustrated with the forgetfulness that often accompanies old age. She consults her doctor, who prescribes a memory enhancer. Within weeks, she can find her car keys and phone her children without using the speed-dial.

Overwhelmed with reading assignments, a college freshman contacts his physician. The doctor prescribes a cognition enhancer: The student aces his exams.

A soldier fights next to his buddy in a foxhole. While exchanging fire with the enemy, a bullet rips through his compatriot's skull, killing him instantly. Witnessing this, the surviving soldier goes into shock, despite the continuing firefight. Quickly, he reaches for a pouch, takes out a pill, and swallows it. Seconds later, he forgets what he saw and resumes shooting--and makes it out alive.

These examples typify the sorts of ethical quandaries likely to surface if such drugs become accepted...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?