The potential transformation of our species by neural enhancement

J Mot Behav. 2015;47(1):73-8. doi: 10.1080/00222895.2014.916652.


Neural enhancement represents recovery of function that has been lost due to injury or disease pathology. Restoration of functional ability is the objective. For example, a neuroprosthetic to replace a forearm and hand lost to the ravages of war or industrial accident. However, the same basic constructs used for neural enhancement after injury could amplify abilities that are already in the natural normal range. That is, neural enhancement technologies to restore function and improve daily abilities for independent living could be used to improve so-called normal function to ultimate function. Approaching that functional level by use and integration of technology takes us toward the concept of a new species. This new subspecies--homo sapiens technologicus--is one that uses technology not just to assist but to change its own inherent biological function. The author uses examples from prosthetics and neuroprosthetics to address the issue of the limitations of constructs on the accepted range of human performance ability and aims to provide a cautionary view toward reflection on where our science may take the entire species.

Keywords: athlete; brain-machine interface; evolution; rehabilitation; sport; superhero; technology; training; transhumanism.

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Enhancement / ethics*
  • Biomedical Enhancement / methods
  • Humans
  • Neuronal Plasticity*