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Boost Kids' Brainpower With A Pill

Publication Date: 
December 08, 2008
U.S. News & World Report
Nancy Shute

Professor Henry T. "Hank" Greely is quoted in a U.S. News & World Report Blog about a commentary he co-authored for Nature about the use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy:

If you could give your children a legal drug that would make them better students, would you jump at the chance—or jump the other way? That's the question raised by brain researchers this week in Nature, a leading scientific journal. The drugs in question are Ritalin and Adderall, the widely used yet controversial medications used to treat attention deficit-hyperactive disorder. "Enhancement is not a dirty word," says Henry Greely, a Stanford University law professor and coauthor of the commentary.


The specter of parental coercion of children to take mind-enhancing drugs really worries Greely. "As a parent, I've coerced my kids many times, whether it's sending them to school or telling them they can't watch TV anymore and have to go outside and play. Those are coercive actions we take that we hope will enhance them."

But because children don't have the same ability to give consent and make free choices as adults do, Greely adds, parents, and society at large, should be exceedingly cautious. He's surprised that schools and the purveyors of SATs and bar exams haven't addressed the use of performance-enhancing drugs. "The official school policies seem to be focused on burying their heads in the sand."