An article in the New York Times this week explores the much-covered topic of performance enhancing drugs. This time, however, the users are not athletes, and the goal isn't more home runs.
Instead, as reported in the journal Nature, prescription drugs such as Adderall, used to treat attention deficit disorder, and Provigil, used to treat narcolepsy, are being taken by college students and faculty alike to increase academic performance through enhanced concentration and wakefulness.
Opinions on the ethical issues surrounding "brain-boosting" differ, especially between those who use the drugs and the experts who speculate on the long term consequences. Some urge that widespread use will eventually raise "normal" standards, creating an unfair advantage for those with access to the drugs over those who do not. Others suggest that making people who are already driven and productive even more productive could be seen as a positive thing, assuming- and this is a big assumption- that no one, including the user, is harmed in the process.