A good in-depth article here about the questions and challenges we will have to face in the light of the increased availability and use of cognitive enhancers. Although caffeine and nicotine have been used to boost performance for a long time the latest incarnation of ‘smart drugs’- typically in the form of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) prescription medicines such as Modafinil, Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine – is surfacing as an issue within Universities and it is only a matter of time before this becomes a workplace issue that organisations will need to address. When the evidence shows that taking some pills can enhance workplace focus and efficiency and give an edge over competitors then the pressure to take them may be overwhelming. And in the absence of any long-term studies we are left with ample evidence of their efficacy and none about likely risks.
Organisations using ability tests, assessment centres etc. will before too long need to have formal policies on the use of nootropics (an umbrella term for drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that improve one or more aspects of mental function such as working memory, motivation, and attention). But what then? Drug testing a la the world of sport? I think we will be seeing more and more focus on this topic in the not too distant future.