Need a brain boost? Narcolepsy drug found to enhance your smarts

By Maria Kyriacou

Image: Thinkstock
Image: Thinkstock
Researchers discover the drug Modafinil sees higher brain function kicking in when users need it most, but is using it ethical?

Isn’t it amazing when scientists stumble upon benefits other than the ones they were initially focused on finding? This find could be one of their best yet, albeit somewhat controversial.

A couple of researchers from the University of Oxford and the Harvard Medical School stumbled across the discovery that narcolepsy drug Modafil gives users a higher brain-functioning edge. The find was made while looking at 24 previous cognitive enhancement studies, between the years 1990 to 2014.

The central nervous system boosting drug worked best at enhancing their planning and decision-making abilities. Users of the drug were given tests, and as the tests grew progressively complex, it became apparent the medication became more reliable at enhancing their thinking. another positive is that no there were no short-term side-effects and a low possibility of addiction.

Dr. Anna-Katherine Brem and Dr. Ruairidh Battleday found that Modafinil does in fact boost thinking, in the study published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology. They’re now interested in figuring out new ways to reliably evaluate normal and even beyond normal (supra-normal), thought.

“It’s the first real example of a smart drug,” conceded Professor Guy Goodwin of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, “which can genuinely help, for example, with exam preparation.

However, Professor Goodwin raises concerns about whether science should encourage the use of brain-enhancing drugs.The discovery opens an ethical can of worms similar to the debates that have arisen over the use of steroids. 

Do you think using a brain enhancing drug is a smart idea?

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