Research Topic

Using Substances to Enhance Performance: A Psychology of Neuroenhancement

About this Research Topic

Neuroenhancement (NE) is a behavior conceptualized as the use of a potentially psychoactive substance to enhance ones’ already proficient cognitive capacities. Depending on the specific definitions used prevalence estimates vary greatly between very low 0.3% (for illicit substances) to astonishingly high 89% ...

Neuroenhancement (NE) is a behavior conceptualized as the use of a potentially psychoactive substance to enhance ones’ already proficient cognitive capacities. Depending on the specific definitions used prevalence estimates vary greatly between very low 0.3% (for illicit substances) to astonishingly high 89% (for freely available lifestyle substances). These variations already indicate that further research and more conceptual and theoretical clarification of the NE construct is needed. Moreover, as prevalence data continues to accumulate, there is a dramatic lack of knowledge on why people try to neuroenhance. The proposed research topic focuses this knowledge gap. It is about addressing psychological drivers, correlates and consequences of NE, a behavior that seems to be on the rise in modern societies. Core research questions include, when do people decide to try such enhancements and what are the subjective goals connect with that behavior? Are there psychological characteristics of (potential) NE users? What are psychological and physiological consequences of NE? How is the relation between factual and subjective effectiveness on the one side and performance increase on the other? What are the similarities and where are the differences between NE and other forms of functional (ab)use of performance enhancing substances, e.g. doping in elite sport or nutritional supplementing in exercise settings?
These questions are addressed using various methodological approaches, ranging from theoretical accounts on NE to research conducted in (quasi-)experimental or field settings. Contributions from the similar – but in regard to social science research already more evolved – domain of doping in sports are especially encouraged to provide an outlook onto research questions and approaches that are expected to drive psychological NE research already in the near future.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be in line with the scope of the specialty and field to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Manuscripts discovered during any stage of peer review to be outside of the scope may be transferred to a suitable section or field, or withdrawn from review.

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