By Paola Tine, Social Anthropologist and Master in Applied Neuroscience student

Abstract

Recent studies in neuroscience have demonstrated the potential for brain connections to change, in order to adapt to certain conditions and to balance neurons loss. Through training, this can occur to such a large extent that one’s personal and socio-cultural boundaries can be extended. This can consequently be used for good and bad purposes. For example, mindful training can be implemented through meditation to manage stress, thus reducing unhealthy circuits in the brain such as the HPA axis response. However, neuropsychological training can also be used to ease individuals into controversial tasks, such as killing. This type of use of neuroscientific knowledge used for national security and warfare raises several ethical concerns.  This article discusses how brain plasticity can be used to modify the emotional response of soldiers within war contexts through a process of dehumanisation of the enemy and how this in turn creates further neuropsychological damage in veterans in a post war context.  Finally, the possibility of reversing this process and its utility in post-conflict resolution is explored, opening up to further studies on the topic.

Keywords: brain plasticity; emotions; empathy; fear; higher functions; neuroscience; peace; soldiers; war

Download the full research study here: Paola Tine (2020). War and Peace of Neuroscience. Dehumanisation and Collateral Damage in Warfare. SAERA

 

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