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For Fear of a 'Cognitive Divide'

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

Eugene Russo
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...

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