Neurology is a branch of medicine dealing with disorders of the nervous system. Neurology deals with the diagnosis and treatment of all categories of conditions and disease involving the central and peripheral nervous system (and its subdivisions, the autonomic nervous system, and the somatic nervous system); including their coverings, blood vessels, and all effector tissue, such as muscle. Neurological practice relies heavily on the field of neuroscience, which is the scientific study of the nervous system.
A neurologist is a physician specializing in neurology and trained to investigate or diagnose and treat neurological disorders. Neurologists may also be involved in clinical research, clinical trials, and basic or translational research. While neurology is a non-surgical specialty, its corresponding surgical specialty is neurosurgery.
The emerging field of neurological enhancement highlights the potential of therapies to improve such things as workplace efficacy, attention in school, and overall happiness in personal lives. This field has also given rise to questions about neuroethics and the psychopharmacology of lifestyle drugs.
Cosmetic neuro-pharmacology, the use of drugs to improve cognition in normal healthy individuals, is highly controversial. Some case reports with the antidepressant Prozac indicated that patients seemed “better than well,” and authors hypothesized that this effect might be observed in individuals not afflicted with psychiatric disorders. Following these case reports much controversy arose over the veracity and ethics of the cosmetic use of these antidepressants.
Opponents of cosmetic pharmacology believe that such drug usage is unethical and that the concept of cosmetic pharmacology is a manifestation of naive consumerism.
Proponents, such as philosopher Arthur Caplan, state that it is an individual’s (rather than government’s, or physician’s) right to determine whether to use a drug for cosmetic purposes. Anjan Chatterjee, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has argued that western medicine stands on the brink of a neuro-enhancement revolution in which people will be able to improve their memory and attention through pharmacological means. Jacob Appel, a Brown University bioethicist, has raised concerns about the possibility of employers mandating such enhancement for their workers.