This course is based upon material published in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology and is available as an open access article on the creative commons website.
Abstract: Pharmacological cognitive enhancers (PCEs) are used to improve cognitive functions, such as attention, learning, memory and planning in patients with impairments in cognition resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI) or from neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment, schizophrenia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Moreover, PCEs have been shown to improve cognition in healthy volunteers with no psychiatric disorders. This article describes the rationale behind the need for their use in neuropsychiatric patients and illustrates how PCE scan ameliorate cognitive impairments, improve quality of life and wellbeing, and therefore reduce the economic burden associated with these disorders. We also describe evidence that PCEs are being used as cognitive enhancers by healthy people. Crucially, as the lifestyle use of these drugs becomes very popular in the healthy population, a final aim is to present an overview of the current and future neuroethical considerations of enhancing the healthy brain. As information regarding their actual use, benefits and harms in various healthy populations is currently lacking, we propose research that aims to obtain relevant empirical data, monitor the short- and long-term effectiveness and side-effects, and initiate accurate surveys to determine current patterns and quantity of usage of PCE drugs by healthy people. Furthermore, in order to instigate a dialogue between neuroethics and neuropsychopharmacology, we urge scientists to explore and communicate the social and ethical implications of their research to the public. Finally, we discuss and highlight other means of enhancing cognition in both patients and healthy adults, including education and physical exercise.
This course on the ethics of elective psychopharmacology is useful for psychologists, nurses, social workers, professional counselors, and chemical dependency counselors who work with clients and need continuing education. This course is appropriate for beginning, intermediate and advanced level practitioners who wish to develop their understanding of ethics and elective psychopharmacology. It may also be useful for licensed clinicians who require ethics course credits and are interested in learning more about elective psychopharmacology.
Authors: Mohamed and Sahakian
Learning Objectives: This course will provide the practitioner with detailed information regarding ethics and psychopharmacology. Specifically, a professional will:
· Describe the rationale behind the need for the use of cognitive enhancers in neuropsychiatric patients
· Identify uses of cognitive enhancers in patients with cognitive impairments and in healthy people.
· Identify other means of enhancing cognition in both patients and healthy adults
Citation: Mohamed and Sahakian. (2012). The ethics of elective psychopharmacology. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. V 15 pp 559–571.