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Executive Summary

Remembering, reasoning, planning, evaluation, and decision making are all faculties fundamental to a fulfilled life. When these abilities decline or fail to develop there are social, emotional, economic, health, and health-care consequences not only for the individuals affected, but also for their families and wider society.

Older people represent the largest group of people who are multi-modally disadvantaged by the consequences of impaired cognitive function. Rapid demographic ageing together with the steep rise in the prevalence of cognitive impairment with advancing age means that the number affected will double over the next thirty years. Hundreds of millions of elderly people will be cognitively impaired by 2040.

Cognitive impairment represents the core of the main problems of disadvantage that affect the elderly including depression, disempowerment, discrimination, social isolation, and poor health. These factors, in turn, further reduce cognitive function in a spiralling and disabling cyclical fashion. The groundbreaking discovery that the brain is plastic and can be shaped by experience, training and stimulation at any age, offers the potential for cognitive enhancement intervetions to build brain networks in a way that offers resistance to cogntiive impairment and dementia. Cognitive enhancement has the potential to be a ‘Trojan horse’ which can be harnessed to achieve wider psychological and social effects.

NeuroEnhancement for Independent Lives (NEIL) aims to develop an internationally replicable technology-linked approach to facilitate the prevention of cognitive impairment and ultimately dementia by enhancing cognitive function.

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Email: neil@tcd.ie
Last updated 14 June 2012

Enhance / Enable / Educate / Empower