, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 1–4 | Cite as

Cognitive Enhancement, Lifestyle Choice or Misuse of Prescription Drugs?

Ethics Blind Spots in Current Debates
  • Eric RacineEmail author
  • Cynthia Forlini
Brief Communication


The prospects of enhancing cognitive or motor functions using neuroscience in otherwise healthy individuals has attracted considerable attention and interest in neuroethics (Farah et al., Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5:421–425, 2004; Glannon Journal of Medical Ethics 32:74–78, 2006). The use of stimulants is one of the areas which has propelled the discussion on the potential for neuroscience to yield cognition-enhancing products. However, we have found in our review of the literature that the paradigms used to discuss the non-medical use of stimulant drugs prescribed for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) vary considerably. In this brief communication, we identify three common paradigms—prescription drug abuse, cognitive enhancement, and lifestyle use of pharmaceuticals—and briefly highlight how divergences between paradigms create important “ethics blind spots”.


Neuroethics Enhancement Prescription drug misuse Lifestyle drugs Public health 



We would like to acknowledge the support of the International Institute for Research in Ethics and Biomedicine, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal. Thanks to Nicole Palmour, Dr. Emily Bell, and Dr. David Bouvier. The authors report no conflicts of interest


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut de recherches cliniques de MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Université de MontréalMontrealCanada
  3. 3.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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