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Rethinking Cognitive Enhancement$
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Ruud ter Meulen, Ahmed Mohammed, and Wayne Hall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198727392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727392.001.0001

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Lessons for enhancement from the history of cocaine and amphetamine use

Lessons for enhancement from the history of cocaine and amphetamine use

(p.282) Chapter 18 Lessons for enhancement from the history of cocaine and amphetamine use
Rethinking Cognitive Enhancement

Stephanie Bell

Jayne Lucke

Wayne Hall

Oxford University Press

We describe historical experiences with two medicinal drugs for which cognitive enhancement claims were made, cocaine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and amphetamines in the mid-twentieth century. An initial steep rise in prescribing for medical use was followed by expanded nonmedical use fueled by enthusiasm for the drugs’ effects. As the number of regular users increased, problems related to use became apparent, societal concern increased, and laws were passed banning nonmedical and medical use. We highlight the similarities between the enthusiasms for cocaine and amphetamines and the current enthusiasms for using prescription stimulants for cognitive enhancement. We argue bioethicists should not encourage the cognitive enhancement use of drugs such as methylphenidate in the absence of evidence on the efficacy and safety of their use for cognitive enhancement purposes.

Keywords:   amphetamines, cognitive enhancement, cocaine, drug use, methylphenidate, neuroenhancement

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