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Surprising Science

Brain Enhancement Pills: Controversial, Widely Used

Brain enhancement pills are widely available though they are meant to be a controlled substance. Researchers are increasingly interested in a pill that could benefit society. 

What’s the Latest Development?

A recent survey uncovered that over half its respondents have used some form of brain-enhancing pill and a vast majority, 92 percent, would use them again. While the study was not representative of society, it gives a snapshot of an area where little data exists. Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall, taken for A.D.H.D., and modafinil, prescribed for sleep disorders, are widely available despite being controlled substances and unsavory drug addicts are not the pills primary takers: Students and professionals take them the most. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Many people drink coffee or go for a run to increase their mental awareness so what is the harm in taking a pill? Researchers are increasingly interested in finding a drug that might benefit society as a whole by improving memory functions, the ability to plan ahead and by controlling impulses. And increasing concentration is only the beginning. Some researchers believe they can enhance cognition by manipulating hormones. One drug, oxytocin, enhances feelings of empathy and might one day create a morality pill. 

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