Neuroethical Issues in Cognitive Enhancement: the Undergraduates’ Point of View

Alice Cancer, Peter J. Schulz, Silvana Castaldi, Alessandro Antonietti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


To date, legitimacy of the application of cognitive enhancement programs to healthy individuals is still fueling neuroethics discussions. The aim of the present investigation is analyzing naïve conceptions of the ethical implications of different practices—namely, non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS), psychotropic drugs, diet, hydration, and physical activity—which can be followed to enhance cognitive performance. An online survey targeted the opinions of the general public about the efficacy of the neuroenhancement techniques and ethical concerns in different contexts. Measures of general self-efficacy and beliefs about intelligence have been collected as well. Responses of 89 Italian undergraduate students of medicine or psychology were analyzed statistically and thematically. Findings supported the notion that passive ways of enhancing human performance, which fail to imply any personal effort and individual responsibility, are conceived as infringing moral rules, regardless of the context where they are implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-330
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cognitive Enhancement
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Cognitive enhancement
  • General self-efficacy
  • Implicit theories of intelligence
  • Neuroethics
  • Neuromodulation
  • Psychotropic drugs
  • tDCS


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