Pediatric Pharmacological Cognitive Enhancement in a Self-Medicating Society

  • Larissa J. MaierEmail author
Part of the Advances in Neuroethics book series (AIN)


Pediatric pharmacological cognitive enhancement (PPCE) refers to children’ and adolescents’ nonmedical use of prescription and recreational drugs for enhanced performance at school. Adolescents’ own intentional decision for substance use to compete with fellow students must be distinguished from parental decisions to enhance their children’s performance as an investment in their children’s or in their own future, respectively. While several recent studies have examined the prevalence and the correlates of pharmacological cognitive enhancement among healthy students and employees, only little is known about PPCE among school students. Given that decision-making in adolescence is strongly modulated by emotional and social factors, peer influence, and availability, the theory of self-medication might best explain intentional PPCE in late adolescence. In addition, regular recreational drug use is likely to lower the barriers for PPCE in populations interested in enhancing their performance at school. To ensure equal developmental opportunities for today’s school students, an individual-centered approach should focus on strengthening adolescents’ resources and self-efficacy.


Cognitive enhancement Drugs Children Adolescents Self-medication 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)San FranciscoUSA

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