Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Prof Little Helper

Ever need a little pick me up? I certainly do, and in fact, I’m sitting here drinking a cup of coffee as I write. In the wake of the steroids scandal in baseball and the increasing prevalence of drugs in the classroom (e.g. for ADD), an important debate is brewing on the role of pharmaceuticals in our daily life. A recent short article in Nature by Barbara Sahakian and Sharon Morein-Zamir outlines several issues related to the increasing use of stimulants to improve memory and alertness. The most striking point is that when we talk about taking a pill to achieve a cognitive benefit, it seems somehow different from drinking a cup of espresso. Interesting…

At any rate, this article is worth checking out because it calls attention to the blurry line between ‘cheating’ and taking a reasonable step to ensure maximum cognitive capacity. Clearly defining this line is critical as the next generation of school children comes of age in an era of widespread standardized testing: who can afford to fall a little behind or go at their own pace anymore?

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