20% of the readers of Nature use cognitive enhancers

20% of the surveyed readers of Nature use cognitive enhancers to improve their focus, concentration, or memory

This is related to my article that the transhumanist debate needs to be properly framed. My general view is that if the negative health aspects of any form of enhancement can be made less than the benefits then on an individual basis people will choose enhancements that personally benefit them.

A total of 1,400 people from 60 countries responded to the online survey. The subjects were asked specifically about the use of three drugs: methylphenidate (Ritalin), which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but is considered on college campuses as a “study aid”; modafinil (Provigil), which is prescribed for sleep disorders, but is used by some to fight general fatigue or jet lag; beta-blockers, cardiovascular drugs prescribed for heart failure and high blood pressure, which are also known for their anti-anxiety effect.

Among those “who choose to use,” methylphenidate was the most popular agent: 62 percent of users reported taking it. Modafinil was taken by 44 percent of users and beta blockers by 15 percent. Thus, many of the subjects were using more than one drug

When asked about use of other drugs, many of the subjects reported taking Adderall, a drug prescribed for ADHD containing a mixture of amphetamines. Other drugs used included centrophenoxine, piracetam, dextroamphetamine sulfate, and alternative medicines, such as ginkgo and omega-3 fatty acids.

The use of cognition-enhancing drugs did not vary by age group, the report indicates. Maher said this may be surprising to some people since prior research has suggested increased usage in 18- to 25-years-olds.

Improving concentration was the main reason cited for using these drugs with enhancing focus on a specific task being a close second.

Four fifths of respondents believed that healthy adults should be permitted to take cognition-enhancing agents if they want to and 69 percent said they would risk mild adverse effects to take the drugs themselves.

Eighty-six percent of respondents said that children under 16 years should be restricted from using these drugs, yet one third of respondents said they would feel pressured to give their child these agents if other children were taking them.

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