Brain-Boosting Drugs Hit the Faculty Lounge

December 20, 2007

Some university faculty members have started popping “smart” pills to enhance their mental energy and ability to work long hours.

In a commentary published in Nature on Thursday, Barbara Sahakian and Sharon Morein-Zamir of the University of Cambridge revealed an informal survey showing that a handful of colleagues, all involved in studying drugs that help people perform better mentally, would take the drugs.

The notion raises hackles in some parts of academe. “It smells to me a lot like taking steroids for physical prowess,” said Barbara Prudhomme White, an associate professor of occupational therapy at the University of New Hampshire, who has studied the abuse of Ritalin by college students. With the recent revelations about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional baseball, she sees parallels between striving athletes and faculty members. Read the full story here.

Should the life of the mind be chemically enhanced when, say, a professor needs to crank out a tenure-worthy paper? Let us know your thoughts in a comment below.