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Cognitive enhancement: mechanisms and impact

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In the 1960s the term nootropic was first coined to refer to drugs capable of improving performance on simple learning and memory tasks in rodents. Some 50 years later, the term has been replaced by cognitive enhancers, which now refers to so-called brain boosting drugs used in humans. These drugs include ...

In the 1960s the term nootropic was first coined to refer to drugs capable of improving performance on simple learning and memory tasks in rodents. Some 50 years later, the term has been replaced by cognitive enhancers, which now refers to so-called brain boosting drugs used in humans. These drugs include modafinil, methylphenidate and amphetamine – all of which may have powerful effects in particular clinical populations. Perhaps because of their efficacy in certain clinical conditions, research into their effects in healthy individuals – true cognitive enhancement – is less prevalent and what is available is often inconsistent or indicative of a far more complicated situation. Moreover, as the ethical debate around use of these drugs in healthy individuals continues, not least because of feared side effects, it becomes increasingly necessary to strengthen our understanding of their actions in such individuals.
Therefore, this topic welcomes contributors addressing the following questions (1) what functions, if any are significantly enhanced by these cognitive-enhancing drugs; (2) what mechanisms of action do they display in healthy individuals; (3) what factors affect the efficacy of cognitive enhancers; (4) what side effects of use may occur? It is anticipated that the articles in this Research Topic will enhance the understanding of the mechanisms and impact of cognitive enhancing drugs which may in turn further our understanding of the neural processes undergoing enhancement and feed into the debate about their safe and effective use in healthy individuals.
Submission of original data is desirable, but we also encourage mini-reviews and perspective papers which offer provocative and insightful interpretations of the recent literature in the field.


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