[ExI] Boffins chomp noggin-nobbling narcotics

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Wed Apr 16 20:42:48 UTC 2008

Boffins chomp noggin-nobbling narcoticsJekyll and super-intelligent
HydeBy Chris
More by this author<http://search.theregister.co.uk/?author=Chris%20Williams>
Published Thursday 10th April 2008 15:08 GMT

Shocking research by Nature has revealed that many of the world's boffins
are routinely taking psychoactive drugs to boost their brain power.

An "informal survey" by the leading research rag has uncovered an epidemic
of drug use in scientific circles. One in five respondents to the survey
reported they had used cognition-enhancing prescription drugs for
non-medical reasons.

Specifically, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) drug Ritalin,
sleep medication Provigil, and beta blocking heart drugs are all reportedly
guzzled to improve focus, concentration, and memory. More than one third had
obtained their fix from an internet pharmacy. All but one of the 14 British
scientists who responded ordered online.

The enhanced eggheads reported side effects including sleeplessness,
jitteriness, anxiety, and headaches.

But the poll also revealed that most boffins have no problem with their
competitors obtaining a chemical advantage. Four in five said healthy adults
should be allowed to turbo charge their own brain if they want to.

Boffinry's - and indeed the public's - fancy for personal enhancement is
nothing new, of course.

In 2006, Sir David King, then the UK government's top scientific advisor,
briefed <http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/06/05/drug_enhancement_briefing/>ministers
at Downing Street on what was dubbed "cosmetic neurology". He
warned that regulators will have to be ready for an explosion in public
interest in the concept over the next 20 years.

In November, the British Medical Association
kickstart debate on the ethics around mental meddling. "It should be
remembered that people are willing to endure major surgery to enhance their
visual appearance, so they may be willing to do so to improve their
cognitive ability as well, if the techniques prove to be effective," the
doctors' group said.

Read Nature's own report on its findings
And step away from the coffee machine. (R)

BTW, "boffins" seem to mean scientists in British English. :-)
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