Over the counter or prescription: over the top drugs to boost mental performance

Some drugs are believed to boost memory (See my post of Feb. 7, 2006: 40 drugs that improve memory, including modafinil; May 30, 2006: working memory; Aug. 19, 2007 #2: α2b-adrenoceptor and yohimbine; March 2, 2008 #4: ampakines and the neurotransmitter glutamate; April 22, 2008: cogniceuticals include memory enhancement; and Dec. 17, 2008: beyond brain science to gene doping.).

Many neuroenhancers are on the market, such as drugs designed to treat ADHD (Ritalin, Adderall), Alzheimer’s (Aricept), and narcolepsy (Provigil). According to Julian Dibbell, ed., The Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale Univ. 2010) at 197 (by Sam Anderson), drugs such as these “can produce, in healthy people, superhuman states of attention.” Neuroenhancers are currently illegal to use without a prescription but that hasn’t deterred many people from swallowing them. In a competitive world, awash in winner-take-all tournaments, the urge to boost one’s IQ will prove irresistible to some lawyers.

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