iD magazine

Can certain pills make you smarter?


Prescripti­on drugs are sometimes used off-label to improve cognitive function. Researcher­s who wanted to find out if the “smart drugs” work recruited 39 competitiv­e chess players with an average IQ of 127 and an aboveavera­ge chess rating. The players were given either 200 mg of modafinil, 200 mg of caffeine, 20 mg of Ritalin, or a placebo. Then they were tested while they played chess against a computer. Modafinil boosted performanc­e by 15%, Ritalin by 13%, and caffeine by 9%, but only if the players took extra time to make a move. Conclusion: The substances made fast, shallow thinkers deeper and somewhat slower.

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