Why not use drugs for brainpower?

Remember all that hoo-hah over scientists using drugs such as Ritalin and Provigil for the very, very off-label use of boosting their brainpower? Well, now the folks at Nature are at it again, this time with an opinion piece supporting the idea of brain boosters. "we should welcome new methods of improving our brain function," the authors wrote, saying that using drugs to do so is no more immoral than it is to eat right or get a good night's sleep.

The Nature commentary calls for more research into these alternative uses and offers some tips for managing the risks. It makes sense to take a reasonable approach to the idea, one of the authors said, because as baby boomers age, they're going to want to keep their brains agile. "Almost everybody is going to want to use it," Martha Farah told the AP.

"I would be the first in line if safe and effective drugs were developed that trumped caffeine," another told the news service, reminding us that coffee became the brain-booster of choice during the Enlightenment, when thinkers such as Rousseau and Voltaire would slam down upwards of 20 espressos a day to get their writing done.

Could Ritalin and other ADHD drugs--plus anti-narcoleptics such as Provigil--be the next wave of socially acceptable stimulators? We'll have to wait and see. But given the world of deadlines and distractions we navigate daily, there's likely to be plenty of demand if and when the time comes.

- read the AP story