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Why aren’t we smarter already: Evolutionary trade-offs and cognitive enhancements.

Hills, Thomas and Hertwig, Ralph. (2011) Why aren’t we smarter already: Evolutionary trade-offs and cognitive enhancements. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20 (6). pp. 373-377.

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Abstract

Pharmacological enhancers of cognition promise a bright new future for humankind: more focus, more willpower, and better memory, with applications ranging from education to military combat. Underlying such promises is a linear, more-is-better vision of cognition that makes intuitive sense. This vision is at odds, however, with our understanding of cognition’s evolutionary origins. The mind has evolved under various constraints and consequently represents a delicate balance among these constraints. Evidence of the trade-offs that have shaped cognition include (a) inverted U-shaped performance curves commonly found in response to pharmacological interventions and (b) unintended side effects of enhancement on other traits. Taking an evolutionary perspective, we frame the above two sets of findings in terms of within-task (exemplified by optimal-control problems) and between-task (associated with a gain/loss asymmetry) trade-offs, respectively. With this framework, psychological science can provide much-needed guidance to enhancement development, a field that still lacks a theoretical foundation.
Faculties and Departments:07 Faculty of Psychology > Departement Psychologie > Ehemalige Einheiten Psychologie > Cognitive and Decision Sciences (Hertwig)
UniBasel Contributors:Hertwig, Ralph and Hills, Thomas
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Association for Psychological Science
ISSN:0963-7214
e-ISSN:1467-8721
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Language:English
Identification Number:
Last Modified:30 Oct 2017 13:17
Deposited On:10 Jan 2017 15:40

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