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‘Smart drugs’ don’t make people better at a problem-solving test

Some people try to get a mental boost by taking medicines that are designed to treat ADHD or to counter sleeping disorders, even though they don’t have these conditions. But that may not be such a smart move, as the drugs worsened the performance of people who didn’t have these conditions in a complex problem-solving task.

The drugs involved include two stimulants: methylphenidate, often sold under the brand name Ritalin, and dextroamphetamine. These are both often prescribed to improve concentration and attention in people with ADHD. They are thought to work by raising levels of the brain chemical dopamine, as dopamine-signalling systems may work less well in people with ADHD.

Another drug, called modafinil, is used to help people with excessive fatigue caused by narcolepsy. Modafinil also raises dopamine signalling.

Use of these drugs by people without these conditions has been growing in colleges and workplaces, when cramming for an exam or close to a deadline. People may buy them as “smart drugs” online or from those who have been prescribed them legitimately. “It is really rampant among students in US colleges,” says Peter Bossaerts at the University of Cambridge.

Read the entire article at MSN

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