Universities must investigate measures, including random dope testing, to tackle the increasing use of cognitive enhancment drugs by students for exams, a leading behavioural neuroscientist warns.
Student use of drugs, such as Ritalin and modafinil, available over the internet and used to increase the brain’s alertness, had “enormous implications for universities”, said Barbara Sahakian, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge University’s psychiatry department.
Normally prescribed for neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, such drugs boost acetylcholine in the brain, improving alertness and attention. Their use has prompted concerns that they could give students an unfair advantage. “This is something that universities really have to discuss. They should have some strategy, some kind of active policy,” Sahakian said.