According to a recent study, taking stimulant medications like Ritalin And Adderall without having ADHD can reduce productivity. The study, which was done by researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Melbourne and released on Wednesday in the journal Sciences Advances, examined the effects of three “smart drugs” on 40 “healthy” volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35.
“Our results suggest that these drugs don’t actually make you ‘smarter,’” Peter Bossaerts, one of the study authors and a professor of neuroeconomics at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement. “Because of the dopamine the drugs induce, we expected to see increased motivation, and they do motivate one to try harder. However, we discovered that this exertion caused more erratic thinking.”
The authors of the study observed that occasionally, people without a diagnosis of ADHD use medicine that is often prescribed to treat it because they believe it will improve their ability to concentrate. The medications are intended to improve productivity and cognitive performance, but researchers discovered that they had the opposite impact on certain people.
A week apart, four randomised experiments were carried out. Participants in each study were given either a placebo or one of the three widely used “smart” medications, modafinil (Provigil), Ritalin And Adderall. Though college students are known to use prescription stimulants or “smart” drugs to enhance their productivity including Ritalin and Adderall, a new study finds that using these drugs while not suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder decreases productivity and increases the amount of time needed to complete tasks.
The Knapsack Optimisation Problem, also known as the “knapsack task,” asks participants to decide how to optimally arrange the contents of a virtual knapsack in order to maximise its capacity. The individuals’ performance on this test—also known as the “knapsack task”—was evaluated. Researchers discovered that those who used the medicines experienced significant increases in time and effort spent on the tasks, combined with small declines in accuracy and efficiency while taking the exam.
For instance, those who received Ritalin completed the task on average 50% more slowly than those who received a placebo. According to Dr. Elizabeth Bowman, the study’s principal author, more research is required to discover whether these stimulants are helpful in neurotypical individuals. According to research by Bowman of the University of Melbourne, “drugs that are expected to improve cognitive performance in patients may actually be leading to healthy users working harder while producing a lower quality of work in a longer amount of time.”