Vol. 10 nº 2 - Apr/May/Jun de 2016
Original Article Páginas: 134 a 142

Methylphenidate as a cognitive enhancer in healthy young people

Authors Silmara Batistela1; Orlando Francisco Amodeo Bueno2; Leonardo José Vaz2; José Carlos Fernandes Galduróz2


keywords: central nervous system-stimulating drugs, ethics, nootropic drugs, performance enhancing substances, cognition

The so-called cognitive enhancers have been widely and increasingly used by healthy individuals who seek improvements in cognitive performance despite having no pathologies. One drug used for this purpose is methylphenidate, a first-line drug for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was to test the effect of acute administration of varying doses of methylphenidate (10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg and placebo) on a wide range of cognitive functions in healthy young people.
METHODS: A total of 36 young university students and graduates participated in the study. The participants underwent tests of attention and of episodic, and working memory.
RESULTS: No differences in performance were observed on any of the tests. There was a dose-dependent (40 mg > placebo) effect on self-reported wellbeing.
CONCLUSIONS: According to the recent literature, psychostimulant medications, such as methylphenidate, improve performance when cognitive processes are below an optimal level, which was not the case for the subjects of the present study. We suggest the impression that methylphenidate enhances cognitive performance in healthy young people, justifying its use, may be due to improvements in subjective wellbeing promoted by the drug.


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