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Should Stimulant ADHD Drugs Be Brain-Boosters?

Some scientists say healthy people can benefit from stimulants like Ritalin.

Wednesday December 10th - 10:53am

In a controversial statement on the website for the journal Nature, several scientists wrote that attention deficit disorder medications like Ritalin and Adderall should be available to healthy people looking to improve their focus and boost their brain power.

"We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function," the scientists say. They suggest that using pills to improve brain function is no more morally objectionable than eating right or getting a good night's sleep.

The scientists cite the fact that college students are already (illegally) taking prescription stimulants like Ritalin as a study aid. They reference a 2001 survey of college students that found 4 percent had used prescription stimulants, and at some schools, as many as 25 percent had taken the pills.

The scientists say that more research should be done on the medications, including risk of dependency, before they are widely prescribed to those without a medical need. They also note that brain-boosting medications would be more likely to make it into the hands of those with health insurance, and express concern about increased socio-economic inequalities.

Read the full statement in Nature.

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