Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cognitive Enhancers - Coming Soon to a Workplace Near You

Did you read in the Washington Post about the alarming trend of college and high school students taking "cognitive enhancers" - pills obtained legally or illegally to boost their concentration?

A recent survey of 7th through 12th graders reported that, 2.25 million kids of middle and high school age are using stimulants such as Ritalin without a prescription. This equates to 10% of all kids in those grades.

Unlike other drug use, the kids and young adults using cognitive boosters are the high achievers not your typical "druggies."

Dr. Richard Restak, a neurologist and noted expert on the brain predicts that we will soon begin to see this pill-popping in the workplace.
We're going to see it not only in schools, but in businesses, especially where mental endurance matters." Restak can easily imagine a boss saying, " 'You've been here 14 hours; could you do another six?' It's a very competitive world out there, and this gives people an edge.

According to the Washington Post article, two of the most commonly taken drugs of this variety include Adderall, an ADD medication and Provigil, normally used for narcolepsy. Each, of course, come with a host of potential side effects including sudden unexplained deaths in children with cardiac abnormalities. Adderall sales are up 3,135.6 percent over the same period. Provigil is up 359.7 percent.

Eric R. Kandel, a researcher working on developing pharmaceuticals to improve memory of those who are impaired is shocked by the use of such drugs in kids and young adults.
That's awful! Why should they be taking drugs? They should just study! I think this is absurd. What's so terrible about having a 3.9? The idea that character and functioning and intelligence is to be judged by a small difference on an exam — that's absurd. This is just like Barry Bonds and steroids. Exactly what you want to discourage. These kids are very sensitive. Their brains are still developing. Who knows what might happen.

My sentiments exactly.

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