If you could take a drug to boost your brain-power, would you?
Drugs to enhance human performance are nothing new. Long-haul lorry drivers and aircraft pilots are known to pop amphetamines to stay alert, and university students down caffeine tablets to ward off drowsiness during all-nighters. But these stimulants work by revving up the entire nervous system and the effect is only temporary.
Arguments over smart drugs are raging. If a drug can improve an individual's performance, and they do not experience side-effects, some argue, it cannot be such a bad thing. But where will it all stop? Ambitious parents may start giving mind-enhancing pills to their children. People go to all sorts of lengths to gain an educational advantage and eventually success might be dependent on access to these mind-improving drugs. No major studies have been conducted on the long-term effects. Some neuroscientists fear that, over time, these memory-enhancing pills may end up causing people to store too much detail, cluttering the brain.
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This event formed part of the Next Big Thing events series. For more information about the series, please visit www.policyexchange.org.uk/next-big-thing