Smart drugs "as common as coffee": Media hype about neuroenhancement

Partridge, Bradley J., Bell, Stephanie K., Lucke, Jayne C., Yeates, Sarah and Hall, Wayne D. (2011) Smart drugs "as common as coffee": Media hype about neuroenhancement. PLoS One, 6 11: . doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028416

Author Partridge, Bradley J.
Bell, Stephanie K.
Lucke, Jayne C.
Yeates, Sarah
Hall, Wayne D.
Title Smart drugs "as common as coffee": Media hype about neuroenhancement
Journal name PLoS One   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication date 2011-11
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0028416
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 6
Issue 11
Total pages 8
Place of publication San Francisco, CA, United States
Publisher Public Library of Science
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: The use of prescription drugs to improve cognitive functioning in normal persons -"neuroenhancement" - has gained recent attention from bioethicists and neuroscientists. Enthusiasts claim that the practice is widespread and increasing, and has many potential benefits; however recent evidence provides weak support for these claims. In this study we explored how the newsprint media portrays neuroenhancement.  Aims: We conducted an empirical study of media reporting of neuroenhancement to explore: media portrayals of the prevalence of neuroenhancement; the types of evidence used by the media to support claims about its prevalence; and, the possible benefits and risks of neuroenhancement mentioned in these media articles. Methods: Using the Factiva database, we found 142 newspaper articles about the non-medical use prescription drugs for neuroenhancement for the period 2008-2010. We conducted a thematic content analysis of how articles portrayed the prevalence of neuroenhancement; what type of evidence they used in support; and, the potential benefits and risks/side-effects of neuroenhancement that were mentioned. Results: 87% of media articles mentioned the prevalence of neuroenhancement, and 94% portrayed it as common, increasing or both. 66% referred to the academic literature to support these claims and 44% either named an author or a journal. 95% of articles mentioned at least one possible benefit of using prescription drugs for neuroenhancement, but only 58% mentioned any risks/side effects. 15% questioned the evidence for efficacy of prescription drugs to produce benefits to users. Conclusions: News media articles mentioned the possible benefits of using drugs for neuroenhancement more than the potential risks/side effects, and the main source for media claims that neuroenhancement is common and increasingly widespread has been reports from the academic literature that provide weak support for this claim. We urge journalists and researchers to be cautious in their portrayal of the non-medical use of drugs for neuroenhancement
Keyword Cosmetic Neurology
Nonmedical Use
News Media
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
Official 2012 Collection
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 32 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 55 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 12 Feb 2012, 00:04:19 EST by System User on behalf of UQ Centre for Clinical Research