“Smart Drugs” Adderall and Ritalin Actually Not That Smart
“Those subjects who had been given Adderall were significantly more likely to report that the pill had caused them to do a better job on the tasks they’d been given, even though their performance did not show an improvement over that of those who had taken the placebo.”
Casey Schwartz; “The Daily Beast”
- Students who take cognitive enhancing drugs such as Adderall or Ritalin don’t actually perform better on tests. They just think they do. This is caused by the neurotransmitter dopamine that the drug (similar to amphetamines) releases and triggers the brain’s reward system and its ability to experience pleasure.
- A new study from the University of Pennsylvania tested 47 young adults without ADHD on a variety of cognitive functions such as working memory, visual and situational memory and raw intelligence. Some were tested while on Adderall (a prescription drug to treat ADHD) and others with a placebo, without them knowing which kind of pill they were taking.
- For the last question “How and how much did the pill influence your performance on today’s tests?” The students that had taken Adderall overwhelmingly responded that the pill had caused them to perform better, as opposed to those that took the placebo. Despite their response, both groups performed about equally on the cognitive tests.
- Use of drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin without a prescription is growing exponentially on college campuses. In some colleges, up to 25% of students have used these drugs in the past year. This is due to the increased pressure to boost results, and a perceived notion that use of these drugs boosts academic performance.