On the BBC TV programme Newsnight, on the 09/11/2011 there was a story regarding cognitive enhancement. It explained that one day students would use cognitive enhancers to make themselves more intelligent and perform better at a variety of skills, especially memory tasks and exams. Or to hyper cram for an essay.
They were using three main drugs:-
- Rialin (methylphenidate)
- Adderall ( a mix of dextroamphetamin and levoamphetamine)
- Provigil (Modafinil).
You must note that these three drugs are all based on the direct stimulant amphetamine. The claim that these have intelligence promoting properties is false. Long term use of these drugs is known to cause psychosis. There is nothing smart about using them. Some students are even using Galantamine or Aricept (Donazapil) which are normally used to delay the onset and decline of dementia and alzeimers.
Again this is a dangerous pursuit and I warn students and parents alike to think what difficulties they could be creating in later life. We must note the Adolf Hitler was known to be an addict of Dextroamphetamine. There is a common side effect of these drugs that is known as amphetamine induced psychosis.
The drugs are known to cause depersonalisation and derealisation effects which in turn suppress the empathic and emotional intelligence of a healthy subject. I dread the days when children who are still maturing their emotional character begin to use these drugs or administer cognitive enhancement therapy because they need to score better in their exams. Of course these ideas are not new and the visionary Aldous Huxley clearly saw the end game of the commercial pharmaceutical chemical industry. If we encourage our children to become mini dictators, we will reduce humanity to the most logical end point. Self harm is also a known effect of amphetamines as users describe themselves losing contact with their own body.
Is there an alternative?
There are many natural cognitive enhancers. I have often been asked by actors, high achieving students and researchers for solutions to cognitive limitations.
Below is my guide to cognitive enhancemnent.