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‘Super Kids’: Regulating the Use of Cognitive and Psychological Enhancement in Children

HAGGER, L; HAGGER-JOHNSON, G; (2011) ‘Super Kids’: Regulating the Use of Cognitive and Psychological Enhancement in Children. Law, Innovation and Technology , 3 (1) 137 - 166. Green open access

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Abstract

With headlines such as ‘Get Smart Drugs Out of the Closet, Scientists Urge’ and ‘Smart Drugs for Straight As’,1 discussions about individuals taking psychopharmaceutical drugs to enhance their cognitive performance2 are increasingly in the public domain. In the US, drugs such as Modafinil are being used by university students because they provide a more targeted, powerful mental ‘sharpening’ than traditional stimulants such as caffeine in its various forms.3 Such drugs are readily available over the internet,4 and the US experience is reflected in the UK.5 There have been calls from a former governmental Chief Scientific Officer to make ‘smart’ pills available for all.6 His report noted scientists’ calls for the removal of restrictions on cognitive enhancers that have been dubbed ‘cosmetic neurology’ and ‘nip and tuck’ for the mind.7 It is perhaps unsurprising that many of these drugs are already being used ‘off-label’, whereby an approved drug may be used in ways not specifically sanctioned, although it is likely to be supported by scientific evidence.8 The prospect of older individuals avoiding debilitating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease is exciting, and the popular perception is that there are no obvious short-term harmful effects.9 However, these psychopharmacological drugs do have sideeffects and have the potential to become addictive.10 In addition, they target molecular events underlying cognition and emotion,11 and there is a concern that there may be long-term consequences such as cognitive decline, even when taken by the young.12 Enhancement of psychological traits, such as personality or cognitive ability, has particular ethical, legal and social implications when applied to children.

Type: Article
Title: ‘Super Kids’: Regulating the Use of Cognitive and Psychological Enhancement in Children
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hart/lit/201...
Language: English
Additional information: This is the author's manuscript copy of the article. The published version can be access via this link: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/hart/lit/2011/00000003/00000001/art00005
Keywords: cognitive enhancement, regulation, ritalin, educational policy, public health policy, public health, law, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, psychotropics, youth
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1304951
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