Mind-Enhancers for All?
Adderall (Photo by hipsxxhearts,

Adderall (Photo by hipsxxhearts,

Attention-deficit drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have helped millions of ADHD kids get along. For a new generation, they’ve also fed a black market in college dorms and high-pressure labs, where off-label use by the non-ADHD gets term papers written and lab reports done.

Now, pharmaceutical companies — and some scientists — are saying maybe we should consider “cognitive enhancers,” drugs like these, for the general population.

Some call it “cosmetic neurology,” and say it’s time. Others say it’s a bad, bad idea.

This hour, On Point: The debate over drugs for the mind.

You can join the conversation. Is it time to loosen up? To think of Adderall and Ritalin the way you might think of an hour of exercise? Or a cup of coffee? A fine way to sharpen up? Or is general use of pills for the mind a bad idea?


Joining us from New York is Ellen Gibson at BusinessWeek magazine. She recently wrote the article “Mental Pick Me Ups: The Coming Boom.”

From Philadelphia, we’re joined by Martha Farah, professor of psychology and director at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. She is co-author of a commentary in the December issue of the journal Nature, “Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy.”

From Garrison, N.Y., is Thomas Murray, president of The Hastings Center, a bioethics think tank. He was formerly the director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.

And from Washington, we’re joined by Nora Volkow, director of the National Insitute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health.

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