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
Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy