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Personal Identity, Neuroprosthetics, and Alzheimer’s Disease 

Personal Identity, Neuroprosthetics, and Alzheimer’s Disease
Chapter:
Personal Identity, Neuroprosthetics, and Alzheimer’s Disease
Author(s):

Fabrice Jotterand

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190459802.003.0011
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date: 14 July 2020

This chapter examines the implications of the use of neuroprosthetics such as artificial hippocampi or neurostimulation techniques for the understanding of personal identity in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD): first, regarding a conceptualization of personal identity based on psychological continuity (memory), and second, according to a conceptualization of personal identity based on psychological continuity (memory) and embodiment. This chapter provides an overview of the various stages of AD, including how the disorder impacts people’s memory capabilities and personality and generates behavioral changes. It focuses on neuroprosthetics as a technique to help patients in the early stages of AD to compensate for lost neural functionality and cognitive abilities. It also critically examines the concept of personal identity through the work of John Locke and Derek Parfit and provide an alternative account called bio-psycho-somatic unity. Finally, the chapter offers an ethical framework for the care of patients with AD who experience identity loss that includes the preservation or restoration of psychological continuity, the acknowledgment of an embodied identity, and the necessity of a relational narrative.

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