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Home > Opinion: Academic doping – can drugs make you smarter?

[] , Winstock, Adam and Maier, Larissa Opinion: Academic doping – can drugs make you smarter? (22 Nov 2014)


While the biggest doping scandal of the 21st century comfortably rests on two wheels, there is a gradual awareness that lots of people out there are interested in enhancing themselves. They would like to be smarter, more self-confident, better looking, feel sexier, and run faster.

The growth in the market for so-called human enhancement agents such as neuro-enhancers and anabolic steroids has been driven by a perfect marriage of manufacturers (big pharma), distributors (doctors and pharmacists) and a new generation obsessed with vanity and the defiance of age. As in other areas of substance use, we are witnessing the migration of prescription medications with tight therapeutic indications to high school kids and office executives keen to be on top of their game to get that grade or bonus.

And if you can find the right doctor with a prescription pad and a flexible diagnostic mindset or a website and a credit card, accessing many of these drugs is not hard. Methylphenidate, used for the treatment of ADD/ADHD, and Modafinil, used for the treatment of the chronic sleep disorder (narcolepsy), are the most researched active agents used for cognitive enhancement in healthy individuals. But there are others, developed to treat the cognitive decline associated with dementia or developed on the basis of a theoretical understanding of the complex cognitive processes that underlie learning and memory.
So can drugs make you smarter? Probably not......

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