These substances are mostly only taken during the exam preparation period. Only a narrow majority of polled students reported the desired effects, as a representative study conducted by researchers at the universities of Zurich and Basel reveals.
Besides psychostimulants like Ritalin, students also consume sedatives, alcohol or cannabis.
American and European studies prove that students use prescription medication or drugs to enhance their cognitive performance. Researchers from the universities of Zurich and Basel examined whether Swiss students have also experimented with neuroenhancement and which substances they take by conducting a survey of 6,725 students with an average age of 23 at the two universities and ETH Zurich.
Majority consumes soft enhancers
Around 94 percent of the students surveyed had already heard of neuroenhancement. 13.8 percent of these students had tried to improve their cognitive performance with prescription medication or legal or illegal drugs at least once during their degrees. The substance most used was alcohol (5.6%), fol-lowed by methylphenidate such as Ritalin (4.1%), sedatives and soporifics (2.7%), cannabis (2.5%), beta-blockers (1.2%), amphetamines (0.4%), and cocaine (0.2%).
The respondents primarily took these substances during the exam preparation period, only consum-ing stimulating substances rarely in the exam situation or for general stress during their degrees. While daily neuroenhancement was a rare occurrence (1.8%), the majority consumed “soft enhancers” such as caffeinated products, non-prescription vitamin products or herbal sedatives before their last big exam – around a third even every day.
The number of Swiss students who take neuroenhancing drugs is comparable with recent studies conducted at European universities. “The purported frequency of neuroenhancement at Swiss univer-sities needs to be put into perspective as we asked about psychoactive and calmative substances,” says PD Michael Schaub, the study leader and head of the Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction.
Narrow majority obtained desired effect
As a rule, advanced students who also had a job alongside their degrees and reported higher stress levels consumed performance-enhancing substances more frequently. Certain differences were ap-parent depending on the degree course: In Switzerland, students of the subjects architecture (19.6%), journalism (18.2%), chemistry (17.6%), economics (17.1%), medicine (16.2%), or pharmaceutics (16.1%) had more experience of neuroenhancement than budding mathematicians (8.6%) or sports students (7%), for instance.
According to the survey, the intended effect was only achieved in a narrow majority of the students, which is why only around half would actually take these substances to boost their brain power again. “The development of neuroenhancement at Swiss universities should be monitored as students con-stitute a high-risk group that is exposed to increased stress and performance pressure during their degrees,” concludes Schaub. “However, there is no need to intervene as yet.”
Larissa J. Maier, Matthias E. Liechti, Fiona Herzig, Michael P. Schaub. To dope or not to dope: Neu-roenhancement with prescription drugs and drugs of abuse among Swiss university students. PLOS ONE. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077967
Within the scope of the study at the universities of Zurich and Basel and ETH Zurich, 28,118 stu-dents were contacted, 6,275 of whom went on to take part in the online survey. The study was con-ducted by the Swiss Research Institute for Public Health and Addiction, an associate institute of the University of Zurich, and the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the University Hospital Basel.
Contact:PD Dr. phil. Michael Schaub
Beat Müller | Universität Zürich
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering