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This chapter attempts to assess if the ongoing advances in neuroscience might reveal new targets for incapacitating chemical agents within the central nervous system. It begins by briefly reviewing the functions that the original weapons engineers of the early Cold War thought that they might be able to disable. Such selective malfunctions of the human machine ranged widely from fits to fear, hysteria, delirium and onto depression and so on. It is argued that the knowledge of the structure and function of the circuits controlling behavior within the central nervous system was not adequate to enable such functions to be manipulated at that time, despite the effects of many chemical agents being investigated. Thus, the agents eventually selected were those that targeted simpler functions such as the induction of sedation and loss of consciousness. This chapter establishes that specific manipulation of more complex functions is possible by the consideration of the accidental production of Parkinson's Disease amongst a group of drug addicts and the manipulation of mammalian memory by the use of modern neuroscience techniques. Most of the chapter then examines what we now know about the targets and effects of some of the chemical agents studied in the early Cold War (for example LSD and THC), those that were of interest at the end of the last century and the beginning of this century (for example benzodiazepines and Alpha2-adrenergics), and some of those that could have become of interest more recently (such as orexin/narcolepsy and oxytocin/trust). The chapter strongly suggests that some of the more complex ‘selective malfunctions of the human machine’ originally envisaged by the early Cold War weapons engineers could become of interest again in coming decades. It is argued that this finding makes it even more important that incapacitating chemical agents are quickly agreed to be illegal for ‘law enforcement’ purposes under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

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