Horgan notes that just a few years ago, neuroscientists were reluctant to discuss their involvement in neuroweapons research, yet last year the National Academy of Sciences published a report highlighting the many opportunities for neuroscience to be used in army applications. “Will the militarization of neuroscience really make the world safer, or just trigger a new arms race?” Horgan asks.
Disturbing on another level is the growing prevalence of brain-fitness software aimed at baby-boomers and touting benefits in learning and memory. According to Horgan, the “neurobics” industry earned $265 million in 2008, despite the fact that the benefits derived from the software have not been proven to be more powerful than simply playing cards with friends or taking a walk.
Horgan concludes with the question, “should [neuroscientists] adhere to higher ethical standards than defense contractors and infomercial pitchmen?”
--Ann L. Whitman