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Growing awareness of the opportunities and risks posed by pharmacological cognitive enhancement (aka “smart drugs”)



More research need­ed on use of ‘smart drugs’ by healthy peo­ple (Med­ical News):

Drugs such as methylphenidate and modafinil, mar­ket­ed as Rital­in and Provig­il respec­tive­ly, are used by some healthy indi­vid­u­als in order to boost their cog­ni­tive per­for­mance, despite a gen­er­al lack of knowl­edge about the long-term effects of their non­med­ical use.

Prof. Sahakian and Dr. Sharon Morein-Zamir…believe that the use of cog­ni­tive-enhanc­ing drugs is like­ly to increase over time, along with the vari­ety of dif­fer­ent drugs that are used by healthy peo­ple. To com­bat this, they are call­ing for fun­ders and pol­i­cy­mak­ers to pri­or­i­tize research into the poten­tial ben­e­fits and harms asso­ci­at­ed with the use of these drugs among healthy peo­ple. Reli­able evi­dence “is cru­cial for a bal­anced view on the risks and ben­e­fits of these drugs and to set out clear reg­u­la­to­ry guide­lines for their use,” they argue.

Col­umnPhar­ma­co­log­i­cal cog­ni­tive enhance­ment: treat­ment of neu­ropsy­chi­atric dis­or­ders and lifestyle use by healthy peo­ple (The Lancet Psy­chi­a­try)

  • Sum­ma­ry: Neu­ropsy­chi­atric dis­or­ders typ­i­cal­ly man­i­fest as prob­lems with atten­tion­al bias­es, aber­rant learn­ing, dys­func­tion­al reward sys­tems, and an absence of top-down cog­ni­tive con­trol by the pre­frontal cor­tex. In view of the cost of com­mon men­tal health dis­or­ders, in terms of dis­tress to the indi­vid­ual and fam­i­ly in addi­tion to the finan­cial cost to soci­ety and gov­ern­ments, new devel­op­ments for treat­ments that address cog­ni­tive dys­func­tion should be a pri­or­i­ty so that all mem­bers of soci­ety can flour­ish. Cog­ni­tive enhanc­ing drugs, such as cholinesterase inhibitors and methylphenidate, are used as treat­ments for the cog­ni­tive symp­toms of Alzheimer’s dis­ease and atten­tion deficit hyper­ac­tiv­i­ty dis­or­der. How­ev­er, these drugs and oth­ers, includ­ing modafinil, are being increas­ing­ly used by healthy peo­ple for enhance­ment pur­pos­es. Impor­tant­ly for eth­i­cal and safe­ty rea­sons, the dri­vers for this increas­ing lifestyle use of so-called smart drugs by healthy peo­ple should be con­sid­ered and dis­cus­sions must occur about how to ensure present and future phar­ma­co­log­i­cal cog­ni­tive enhancers are used for the ben­e­fit of soci­ety.

Learn more about cog­ni­tive enhance­ment:

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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