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Cambridge Neuroscientist Professor Barbara Sahakian calls for clinical trials on cognitive enhancers

Barbara recently (27th February), spoke to the Times highlighting the increasing prevalence of cognitive enhancers, such as modafinil and methylphenidate, being bought over the internet and taken by healthy individuals to improve concentration and memory. She calls for Government intervention in this area.

Methylphenidate and modafinil were originally prescribed to those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy to improve their concentration and promote wakefulness. It is now being bought, over the internet, by healthy individuals to improve their cognition, and is reported to be taken by 1 in 10 students at the University of Cambridge.

Barbara, pictured left working at the Department of Psychiatry, told the Times:

“This is a closet phenomenon, .....we know that people are doing these drugs anyway but we don’t know about their long-term safety. The Government has a responsibility to think about what they should do about that. Maybe they should be letting pharmaceutical companies brand these medications via a safe route. Wouldn’t that be better?”

In the same article, Dr Anders Sandberg, 37, a philosophy lecturer at the University of Oxford ‘came out’ as a user of cognitive enhancers, admitting that he regularly (about once a month) takes Modafinil when needing ‘to get something done’.

To read the full Times article, published on the 27th February, click here.

To read about Professor Sahakian’s appearance in BBC2's Horizon programme ‘Pill Poppers’ click here.

Article by Dr. Hannah Critchlow, Cambridge Neuroscience Coordinator.

Posted on 01/03/2010

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