For those born with cognitive impairment, could technology progress to a point where their disability is rectified to a level of regular human faculty? In the movie and memoir, Awakenings, a new drug L-Dopa is applied to patents suffering from the sleeping sickness. They are temporarily brought out of a coma-like state, and become regular functioning people.
I hope this question isn't too speculative to be off topic. Although, I think there are a few glimmers of evidence out there:
As recently as 10 years ago, the idea of reversing mental retardation was unthinkable. That's because many of these conditions result from genetic glitches that derail brain development even before birth. But recent studies with mice and other animals have given researchers hope that it may be possible to develop treatments that improve cognition and behavior in conditions like Fragile X syndrome, in which a mutation to a gene on the X chromosome makes part of the chromosome look unusually thin, and Rett syndrome, another common cause of mental retardation.
Intellectual disability, the currently accepted American term (replacing mental retardation), is socially, rather than scientifically derived, and limited in its precision. The new International Classification of Diseases (ICD11) categorization recommends “intellectual developmental disorder” 6. Our understanding of how learned memories are stored in the brain is still fragmentary7–9 but learning processes appear to converge upon the ability to appropriately develop and modulate synaptic junctions in the brain.
- Jacquemont, S., et al. (2011). Epigenetic Modification of the FMR1 Gene in Fragile X Syndrome Is Associated with Differential Response to the mGluR5 Antagonist AFQ056. Science Translational Medicine, 3(64), 64ra1–64ra1. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.3001708