eCite Digital Repository

Cognitive enhancement with brain implants: the burden of abnormality


Gilbert, F and Tubig, P, Cognitive enhancement with brain implants: the burden of abnormality, Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 2, (4) pp. 364-368. ISSN 2509-3290 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

Official URL:

DOI: doi:10.1007/s41465-018-0105-0


Reported clinical cases of patients with neurological disorders who have received brain implants which produced some degrees of cognitive enhancement introduce the possibility of using implantable neurotechnologies in healthy individual brains. However, little is known about the phenomenology of using implants for cognitive gains. Even if brain implants could augment one’s cognitive capacities, it would not guarantee a net benefit for the implanted individual. In this article, we examine the potential psychiatric effects of increased cognitive capacities, namely the burden of abnormality. We draw on a parallel phenomenon, known as the burden of normality, from clinical studies when patients who became suddenly symptom free after treatment with deep brain stimulation experienced psychiatric adverse effects. While we agree that cognitive enhancement could generate important postoperative benefits, we argue that patients augmenting their capacities will likely experience abnormality as much as, or perhaps even more so than normality.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:brain implant, burden of abnormality, burden of normality, cognitive capacities, cognitive enhancement, deep brain stimulation, Parkinson’s disease, psychiatric adverse effects
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Applied ethics
Research Field:Medical ethics
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Behaviour and health
UTAS Author:Gilbert, F (Dr Frederic Gilbert)
ID Code:128891
Year Published:2018
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (DE150101390)
Deposited By:Office of the School of Humanities
Deposited On:2018-10-23
Last Modified:2019-03-12

Repository Staff Only: item control page