As the brain imaging bottleneck is overcome allowing live neuron-specific resolution of our brains, this information will be combined with data from the whole biochip', making possible a new sets of tools that I am calling, neuroceuticals.
Neuroceuticals act to reduce the severity of a mental disorder or enhance an aspect of mental health. They can be broadly categorized into three classes:
- Cogniceuticals focus on thinking, decision-making, learning, attention, and memory
- Emoticeuticals focus on feelings, moods, drive, and awareness
- Sensoceuticals focus on seeing, smelling, moving, tasting, hearing and touching
Obviously this categorization is simplified, as our senses, cognition and emotions are inextricably interconnected. However, by introducing these terms, it should make discussions of their interdependency clearer over time.
How will complex mixtures of neuroceuticals that simultaneously influence multiple aspects of human behavior impact social relations? How will a person who is slightly less depressed, slightly less anxious, slightly more aware, and with slightly better recall behave?
By influencing multiple characteristics along varying gradients, behaviors will emerge that will culminate into a substantially different behavior repertoire than people currently encounter. In effect, a different playing field will arise wherein people will act perceptually different than if one were to just enable people to be happier.
It is important to view neuroceuticals not as drugs that unnaturally change the human condition. Rather neuroceuticals are tools that humanity is developing to help each of us better control our mental health, allowing us to organize more effectively in an ever-complex world.
The breakthrough required to develop true neuroceuticals are still 10-15 years off. However, as they emerge individuals and organizations will adopt these new tools just as information technology, motorized transportations systems, electricity, steam engines, and canals have been leverage to increase humanity's overall control and effectiveness of physical and information assets.