TMS Improvement of Human Cognitive Abilities


Desmond, J.E.,
Pascual-Leone, A.

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The desire to manipulate brain function is not new. In manipulating brain function, the goal is to manipulate behaviour and we have been manipulating behaviour for the whole of evolution as social animals. The problem is that the most successful machine to manipulate a mind, is another mind and for one mind to manipulate another requires no knowledge of the mechanisms operating in that mind. Our struggle to comprehend these mechanisms by understanding the biological basis of the mind leaves us with at least three problems: How to physically manipulate brain structure and function; how to achieve long-term effects of our interventions; and how to understand the integrated nature of brain function while having the goal of achieving behaviourally local effects. The premise behind this publication is that it is both possible and in a clinical context desirable to influence brain function and that it can serve to improve behaviour and promote recovery of function. As brain imaging techniques improve, scientist are becoming increasingly likely to eventually predict, by examining a scan of a person’s brain, whether he or she will tend to depression or violence, or whether he or she has talents in certain areas. We are likely to learn not only about the brain areas involved in lying, working responsibly, and acquiring new skills with far greater precision than we know now, but also how to change them to enhance or suppress their function and hence manipulate behaviour.