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Advent Of 'Smart Drugs' Raises Safety, Ethical Concerns

Publication Date: 
October 24, 2012
Source: 
Education Week
Author: 
Sarah D. Sparks

Professor Hank Greely is mentioned by Sarah D. Sparks in this Education Week article regarding a study he authored back in 2008 which called for more research on how how drugs developed for and tested on adults and seniors would affect those whose brains were still developing.

Evidence is still limited--but growing--that some chemicals can boost attention, memory, concentration, and other abilities related to academic performance. Researchers at the Society of Neuroscience conference here questioned whether it is safe and fair to allow healthy people to boost their brain function chemically, or use drugs to correct environmental factors like poverty or bad instruction. Those can lead to brain deficits similar to factors that characterize medical conditions like attention-deficit disorders.

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The lead author of the Nature study, Stanford University law professor Henry T. "Hank" Greely, called in 2008 for more study of how drugs developed for and tested on adults and seniors would affect those whose brains were still developing.

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"In general, though, there has been less scientific research into the effects, both good and bad, than I would like to have seen," said Mr. Greely, who is also an expert on legal, ethical, and social issues in bioscience.