Sunday, 16 May 2010

Drugs to make you smart.

So my few days rest for my birthday celebrations are over and now its back into the realities of revision for exams, the first of which is tomorrow. (It's only the progress test tomorrow, an exam which is the same standard for all five years to check how you've improved, which means at this stage it's pretty much 95% guess work.) But before diving back into notes, I thought I'd write a blog on something interesting that was in the news recently.

Apparently, there's a new fad at several universities (the ones mentioned were Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester) where students have been taking Ritalin to help them concentrate whilst they're revising. You may easily have heard of Ritalin, it's a drug given to children with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) which helps them concentrate and be generally calmer. So the thinking among students was that if it helps children with attention deficits have normal attention spans then why couldn't it increase the attention span of people with no disorder. If you could concentrate longer then you could revise longer without being distracted and you'd take more in. It's the equivalent of an athlete taking EPO.

According to individual stories it works well, keeping people awake, alert and focused for long periods of revision. There's even academic research into whether it works by researchers at Oxbridge. It might have long term effects and I certainly wouldn't recommend it but I think its pretty interesting that there is a drug out there, and others along with it, that can in essence make you smarter. Are we seeing a new era of mind -altering drugs not for those who are ill but to increase the ability of everyone? It might be a bit sticky in the ethics department but its certainly going to be interesting to see where it goes.

1 comment:

Internal Optimist said...

Caffeine work for me when it comes to essay time! Similar (stimulant) effect to Ritalin I suppose.

I know some students who take B-blockers before exams as well - not so must as to improve smarts, but quell the sympathetic response to stress. Late happy birthday as well!