Cognitive Enhancement is often defined as the effort to increase the performance of cognitive function like attention & concentration, memory, problem-solving in healthy individuals.
While every species including humans have consistently and continuously evolved day by day to improve themselves. However, using medications and technological advances in increasing cognitive functions is a relatively new aspect and is a matter of debate on the ground of ethical, philosophical and sociopolitical.
Nonpharmacological cognitive enhancers
- Physical exercise
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise has been reported to improve cognitive functions. The proposed mechanism involves increased volume, connectivity and blood flow in the hippocampus and increased efficiency of brain area concerned with cognitive function.
A good sleep especially REM (Rapid Eye Movement) part enhances cognitive function as compared to sleep-deprived persons.
They may enhance cognitive functions like attention, executive function and general cognition.
It is a well known and most used cognitive enhancer. However, it commonly associated with side effects like irritability, palpitation, headache and insomnia. More severe one are chest pain, tachycardia and arrhythmias. The excessive use of caffeine results irritability in children. That why its use in children is restricted.
Brain training or cognitive training
Brain training or cognitive training is a process that uses intense mental exercises to enhance cognitive skills like attention, short term and long term memory, logic and reasoning, decision making etc.It can be helpful in slowing the cognitive decline in elderly. its benefits are also seen in children suffering from ADHD and dyslexia.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)
A non-invasive technique used to stimulate brain areas. Benefits depend on which area is stimulated. It has been shown that TMS improves cognitive functions like verbal fluency, visual-spatial attention, and analogic reasoning speed.
For part II, click here