Is neuroenhancement by noninvasive brain stimulation a net zero-sum proposition?
Brem A-K., Fried PJ., Horvath JC., Robertson EM., Pascual-Leone A.
In the past several years, the number of studies investigating enhancement of cognitive functions through noninvasive brain stimulation (NBS) has increased considerably. NBS techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial current stimulation, seem capable of enhancing cognitive functions in patients and in healthy humans, particularly when combined with other interventions, including pharmacologic, behavioral and cognitive therapies. The "net zero-sum model", based on the assumption that brain resources are subjected to the physical principle of conservation of energy, is one of the theoretical frameworks proposed to account for such enhancement of function and its potential cost. We argue that to guide future neuroenhancement studies, the net-zero sum concept is helpful, but only if its limits are tightly defined.