Smart drugs? Cognitive enhancing drugs and the consequences on healthy populations
Cognitive enhancing drugs (CEDs) are prescription medicines that facilitate cognitive performance. CEDs commonly refer to the pharmaceutical treatments for deficits and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) through the prescription of Adderall (amphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate), or Modafinil. These drugs strengthen levels of alertness, allocation of attention, formation of working memory and long-term memory, and operation of executive functioning such as problem-solving and decision-making. In 2018, the Global Drug Survey revealed both the prevalence of and significant increase in the use of pharmacological cognitive enhancement since 2011. Cognitive enhancement refers to the misuse of prescribed CEDs for non-medical performance enhancement. Some scholars argue that neuroenhancement is beneficial for the general population by improving personal achievement and life quality. Others contend that the non-medical use of CEDs poses significant risks to the cognition (brain development) and behaviour (addiction, poor self-monitoring) of users. This paper reviews the literature on the practice of cognitive enhancement and argues that its usage should not be permitted in the healthy population as it causes detrimental neural effects on consumers and legal and ethical issues for society.
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