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The Blue Pill Makes You... Smarter

The Blue Pill Makes You... Smarter

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

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The newest performance-enhancing drug? Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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Source: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Here's a little word association game: when I say "performance-enhancing drugs," what comes to mind? Pill-popping professors looking for an academic edge... that's exactly right, well done! Seriously, there's quite a debate going on in some academic and professional circles over whether or not it's fair/ethical/safe to use what are called "cognitive enhancing drugs." Is it like taking steroids in sports, or more like an extra cup of coffee in the morning? Think about it... if you've got a big job interview that requires an aptitude test, but you haven't been sleeping well would you take a pill to improve your chances, just this once? Or if it's finals time and you have to get an "A" to get into grad school, and you know that other student competing for the fellowship is taking a little brain-booster, what do you do? It's not just an academic debate, either. A commentary in the journal Nature on this topic set off a spirited back and forth on the news blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education. And, The New York Times wrote about a possible "era of doping... in academia." What do you think: is popping a pill to give your brain a boost just as bad as taking steroids in sports? And more to the point, would you do it?

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