I picked up a copy of Scientific American this month (though I normally prefer Scientific American Mind). The cover said “Pills to Make you Smart: What Should you Know about Cognitive Enhancers,” so I couldn’t resist. The article talks about, among other things, how some would like to make drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin and Concerta), amphetamines (Adderall), modanfinil (Provigil), and donepezil (Aricept) available to the general public, namely to those whose cognitive function is what one might consider “normal.” It does a fairly balanced job of listing out pros and cons, but quite frankly this kind of thing scares me.
I don’t think it is going to take legalization for these types of medication to make their way into the general public. The temptation to take them may become like that to take performance enhancing drugs for athletics. When scholarships are on the line that are worth a lot of money and play a significant role in a students future, are they going to be able to resist the temptation to take these medications when studying for and taking tests like the GRE? Would this be considered an unfair advantage over students who did not take the medications? Are students going to be placed between a rock and a hard place of choosing between potential side effects of these drugs and the possibility of someone else performing better on a standardized test and potentially getting a scholarship that could have been theirs?
I highly recommend checking out the article, though you’ll either have to pick up a hard copy or subscribe online. The articles are not free. You can check it out HERE.