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The security impact of the neurosciences

July 24, 2008

The development and use of human enhancement drugs, especially for military purposes, causes even greater debate and speculation. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s program on Preventing Sleep Deprivation, for example, has invested millions of dollars in developing drugs that aim to “prevent the harmful effects of sleep deprivation” and increase “soldiers’ ability to function more safely and effectively despite the prolonged wakefulness inherent in current operations.” Interest in this program kindled further research in performance enhancement drugs that counter sleep deprivation such as Ampakine CX717, which enhances attention span and alertness by binding to AMPA-type glutamate receptors in the brain boosting the activity of glutamate, a neurotransmitter, and other improvements from Modafinil, a non-amphetamine based stimulant or “wakefulness promoting agent.” Other potential neuropharmaceutical applications include improving memory retention and treating post-traumatic stress disorder.

Source: The Bulletin.

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