Pros use pills to boost brainpower

Fuzzy-headed today? Then pop a pill. Professionals of all kinds are doing it these days, according to a survey taken by Nature. Young, old, you name it--they're taking various meds to boost their concentration and memory. Some 62 percent prefer Ritalin, the ADHD med made by Novartis. Another 44 percent liked Cephlon's Provigil, the "keep-awake" drug. Others used Adderall or another amphetamine, beta blockers, even centrophenoxine, a dementia med.

Now, the survey was open only to Nature subscribers, who tend to be scientists, engineers, or folks like journalists who follow science closely. So it's not a generalized, randomized bit of research. (Of the 1,400-odd people who responded, about 15 percent were biologists and 15 percent engineers; 12 percent were educators, 8 percent worked in the medical field, and 7 percent in the media.) But it does show a clear trend.

Another thing: Almost 80 percent of the respondents said healthy people should be allowed to take cognitive-enhancing drugs if they choose. But even more--86 percent--felt that kids under 16 shouldn't be on any of these meds.

- read the Washington Post story
- check out the item in the WSJ Health Blog

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