Watershed debate on students using 'smart drugs'
UNIVERSITY experts from Bristol are chairing a debate to discuss the recent increase in taking of cognitive enhancing 'smart drugs' by students.
Professors from UWE Bristol will be joined by researchers from the University of Bristol, the University of Oxford, and the Graphic Science education consultancy at a Question Time styled discussion at the Watershed.
Active participation from the public is welcomed at the event which is set to take place on January 9, from 6.30pm until 8pm.
So called smart drugs are taken by students to increase their concentration levels and attention span. The drugs are normally prescribed for problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
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UWE's Dr Darian Meacham said: "The use of various smart drugs amongst secondary school and university students is on the rise with nearly 25% of students at some American universities reported as having used smart drugs to help them study and improve grades.
"Most often this means the off-label use of prescription pharmaceuticals like Ritalin, Adderall, Strattera or Modafinil, normally prescribed for conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy.
"These drugs have been shown to increase concentration, attention span, and working memory capacity. We will be discussing the ethics associated with this kind of drug taking."
Areas that will be discussed at the talk include whether it is fair that some students have access to expensive medications while others don't, discussions around whether short-term gains outweigh possible long-term risks from the use of these pharmaceuticals and if there is a the risk of cognitive homogenisation from the use of the drugs.
The open event will also broach whether universities should apply penalties to students who do use them in exams and assessments.Researchers concur that these, and other, ethical issues must be carefully considered as the use of smart drugs becomes more widespread and even sanctioned or encouraged.
A panel of bioethicists, psychologists, and educators will include Dr Meacham (UWE) Ruud Ter Meulen (Bristol), Chris Alford (UWE), Sylvie Allouche (Bristol), Heather Bradshaw (Oxford), Alex McKeown (Bristol).
The event is a collaboration between UWE, Bristol Philosophy, The Health, Ethics, and Society Research Stream, and the Centre for Ethics in Medicine at the University of Bristol.
Tickets can be found at the UWE Online Store: www.store.uwe.ac.uk.