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Performance Enhancing Drugs for the Brain - Ilegal, and Used by 20% of Scientists

posted 12:34 AM EST, Fri April 11, 2008
Performance Enhancing Drugs for the Brain - Ilegal, and Used by 20% of Scientists © Photo: Plasticrevolver

One in 5 scientists polled admitted to using performance enhancing drugs to increase mental ability.

Performance enhancing drugs – not only for athletes any more! Twenty percent of scientists polled in a study conducted by the respected journal, "Nature" admitted to using performance enhancing drugs for the mind.

The most commonly abused drug was Ritalin, followed by Adderral and the wakefulness drug Provigil. Scientists used these drugs to increase alertness, focus, mental energy and concentration. All are prescription medications, and all are illegal when used without a prescription.

Martha Farah, the director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania explains that ADHD drugs like Ritalin or Adderall are very effective in increasing concentration, but not without cost - They are addictive, they increase cardiovascular problems and about the long term effects – no one really knows. Farah says, "I sometimes call this America's uncontrolled experiment in pharmacology."

About half of the drug taking scientists mentioned experiencing side effects, such as headache or insomnia, but 69% said that side effects were a small price to pay for a mental edge.

About a third of the scientists also reported that they would feel pressure to give their children these cognition enhancing medications, if they knew that other children were also using them.  

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