Is it necessary to improve one’s cognitive abilities in order to improve memory?

The planet has recently seen an increase in the market for cognitive enhancers. Many university students around the world are buying prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall in order to boost their academic scores, outperform their peers, or increase their learning ability. In the United States, about 7% of higher education students have used prescription drugs for these purposes. Cognitive enhancers are drugs that are used to improve mental capacity. They are made up of both synthetic and natural supplements. Cognitive enhancers, also known as smart drugs or nootropics, are common among entrepreneurs, seniors, scientists, and students because they help with memory, learning, alertness, and overall productivity. However, concerns have been raised on their suitability, ethics and side effects. For instance, the utilization of the brain boosters by a healthy person without medical guidance has generated a heated debate over the last few decades. Cognitive enhancement is not a justified method of improving brain performance and memory because of many ethical concerns and health problems it can cause among the users.

The use of cognitive enhancer presents an ethical concern in the country. In the US universities, most students are utilizing ADHD medication in order to boost their academic scores and grades. However, most consider the issue as cheating hence it is morally unacceptable to use the substances in campus (Carey 2). The use of cognitive enhancers raises the question of fairness in academic competition because it does not occur under fair circumstances. Moreover, cognitive enhancers “affect the integrity of university exam results because they influence the memory, attention and understanding of some students at the expense of others.” In so doing the exam results fail to reflect the true cognitive ability of a student who uses the substances. The ethical concerns also emerge on whether a person who achieved higher grades after using cognitive enhancers deserves to be appreciated (Greely et al 4). The concerns on the accountability of accomplishment are also raised on whether consequential advantages should be attributed to the individual. Another ethical concern associated with cognitive enhancers relate to the social pressure. Firstly, cognitive enhancers cause social competition, which creates a pressure to achieve resulting to a strain. Moreover, the utilization of cognitive enhancer is considered as the effect of high of academic or career pressure to deliver and raises more pressure (Carey 3). For this reason, expert argues that increase the pressure among the employees and learners produces a stressful environment that can be damaging for many generations. More notably, it may cause destructive pressure on person who does not utilize cognitive enhancers. In such cases, they would be compelled to use these methods against their belief aiming to preserve challenging career opportunities. In particular, the mere perception in an organization that colleagues are using cognitive enhancers generates the pressure to embrace the same ways (Wolbring 1). Nevertheless, other scholars argue that there is more focus on the social pressure as a challenge with cognitive enhancer without paying attention on non-cognitive enhancers. Cognitive enhancers have raised the concerns on the growth of self-awareness and character (Lehrer 1). Various scholars have pointed out that these substances prevent the growth of some human characters such as self-control, perseverance, and self-discipline. Moreover, cognitive enhancers present negative effects since they do not offer the chance to raise personal characters and experiences such as self-efficacy and self-awareness. For instance, self-awareness can only be achieved through robust self-attention and precise focus to an individual’s personality and traits. In this regard, self-improvement via mental activities has an affinity to raise self-awareness (Langreth 2). It is probable that the insights generated by the enhancement of non-cognitive qualities are more fascinating since people normally have lack of understanding and knowledge of their emotions rather than their cognitive capacities. Therefore, the use of cognitive enhancers is morally unacceptable because it encourages exam cheating and effects of integrity of results especially in the education sector.

Cognitive enhancers produce severe side effects especially among healthy persons. Firstly, according to neuroscientists, some of the popular cognitive enhancers such as Ritalin cause serious long-term and short-term side effects. For instance, some of the short-term effects of using the drug include lack of appetite and insomnia (Carey 1). On the other hand, long-term side effects include high rate of dependence and addiction. Such cases point out the psychological demand to consume the drug more regularly and taking bigger doses as Ritalin utilization progresses. For this reason, cognitive enhancement drugs have high chances of abuse, which cause serious physical and psychological dependence. The feeling of control and focus linked with Ritalin coupled with it accessibility via medical recommendation creates enabling environment for its abuse (Berezin 2). Apparently, the high vulnerability for Ritalin abuse increases the chances of accessibility among potential users. Research has also pointed out that these cognitive enhancement drugs such as Adderall have some side effects in other parts of the body systems. For instance, they frequently “lead to nausea and gastrointestinal upset as well as simultaneously damaging the visual and verbal episodic memory.” Additionally, they can force a patient to terminate their medication. Moreover, some of the cognitive enhancers have the capacity to damage some feature of cognition while concurrently improving others in the same person. For this reason, these impacts are more likely to reduce any beneficial effects associated with the drugs on the general performance (Langreth 2). Therefore, cognitive enhancers should be discouraged because they generate serious side effects to the healthy individuals such as substance addiction and abuse.

Cognitive enhancers have the capacity to impair the body functions of vital body organs such as the brain and nervous system. For instance overdosing of dopaminergic drugs, required to enhance cognition function have the capacity to impair brain development especially among the young people (Tuller 5). Precisely, persons below 25 years and teenagers who use substances are more likely to experience detrimental effects because the stage is very crucial for brain development (Langreth 1). They can lead to challenges such as stunted mental growth. Moreover, the use of smart drugs from adolescence can damage the formations of some neurons, which affect the brain capacity. The utilization of “Provigil and Ritalin among the juveniles have profound negative effects on their brain.” Although these drugs provide short-term effects by boosting the brain performance, it can lead to drastic problems (Lewis 4). The scholar argued that smart drugs negatively affect the plasticity of the brain disrupting the ability of an individual to plan ahead, change tasks and be generally flexible in his/her approach (Berezin 2). For instance, Ritalin is intended to manage ADHD but more than one million teenagers in the US have reportedly utilized the drug without physician recommendation. Unfortunately, even low amount of the drug can destroy the delicate nerve function in the brain, which negatively affects the complex learning capacity and memory (Langreth 1). Therefore, a substance that is meant to provide acceptable cognitive performance, it causes undesirable effects on long-term basis. However, there is paucity of information on whether use of cognitive enhancers has the same effect to persons over 25 years. The abuse of smart drugs particularly among the young people can adversely affect the nervous system (Sifferlin 3). Cognitive enhancement drugs, which are not commonly accessible in the market such as Ampakines, lead to negative health impacts of people (Carey 1). They drug s applied in the military operations in order to raise the alertness of soldiers. The unregulated use of Ampakines among the young people can lead to overstimulation of the nervous system, which can massively destroy the nerve cell. As the demand of the cognitive improvement is, increasing cases of nerve problems will raise hence the need to exercise caution (Urban and Gao 3). Therefore, continuous use of cognitive enhancers can cause serious negative effects on the brain and nervous system.

On the contrary, cognitive enhancement can offer a wide range of benefits in the society. Scholars have argued that the world must welcome new ways of boosting the functions of the brain (Lehrer 1). In the society where human lifespans and work spans are rising, “cognitive enhancement methods can be exceedingly beneficial because they facilitate higher productivity in job, and better quality of life.” Similarly, they help to slow down the cognitive decline associated to advanced age. In this regard, secure and efficient utilization of cognitive enhancers will be beneficial to both society and individuals (Langreth 1). Most of the drugs utilized to manage neurological and psychiatric conditions can also assist to increase performance of fit people. Some of the substances used for such medication include Adderall and Ritalin, which are recommended for management of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Sax 1). The drugs have the capacity to influence the catecholamine system; they raise the executive operations in healthy individuals, enhancing their capacity to concentrate. In addition, they change data in working memory and adaptably regulate their responses (Tuller 2). Furthermore, “modafinil drug is authorized for fatigue management resulting from sleep disorder caused by work shifts, sleep apnea and narcolepsy.” The drug is quite useful because healthy persons who need to remain awake and alert especially physicians when on night duties or sleep-deprived conditions can utilize it. Similarly, laboratory findings have indicated that Modafinil is beneficial among rested healthy individuals since it boosts various elements of executive utility especially the inhibitory control (Langreth 2). Some of the cognitive enhancers such as donepezil (Aricept) are beneficial to healthy persons since it increase the acetylcholine levels in the brain. Additionally, numerous other drugs with difference pharmacological ability have indicated a positive impact on enhancement of memory among healthy elderly and middle-aged individuals (Lehrer 1). The world should embrace the use of cognitive enhancement because they offer new approaches of stimulating human brain function. Therefore, they provide an opportunity for innovation. Currently, most educators are experiencing challenges to boost the minds of their learners, both by introducing practical information and by demonstrating to them better and new methods to analyze that information (Tuller 3). The use of cognitive enhancers is an emerging method, which should be incorporated, in the daily life to solve cognitive challenges just like traditional method of brain enhancement such as sleep, nutrition and exercise. Boosting the brain function using nutrition encompasses altering the human behavior on what they eat hence it is an invasive method. The use some of cognition enhancement substances among healthy aged people such as Rivastigmine can boost education on a motor jobs and developing associations between digits and symbols (Lehrer 1). Fortunately, the use of cognitive enhancing drugs need moderately little struggle since they do not involve changing human behaviors. Moreover, they are invasive hence does not present sufficient reasons for prohibition. In other words, cognitive boosting drugs appear to be ethically equivalent to other enhancement techniques such as sleep, nutrition and exercise (Langreth 2). Therefore, cognitive enhancers should be used by persons who need them because they provide a wide range of benefits including, attentiveness, productivity and higher cognitive performance.


Cognitive enhancement involves use of substances such as drugs and natural supplements to improve the mental performance, attentiveness and memory. Cognitive enhancers are widely used across the world especially among students, entrepreneurs, teachers and scientists. They are beneficial among health individuals as they improve performance at workplaces. Similarly, they help to slow down the cognitive decline associated to advanced age. However, cognitive enhancers have a wide range of negative effects because they affect proper brain development in young people and affect the nerve cells. Furthermore, the present may ethical concerns because as they lead to unfair competition and academic results. Cognitive enhancement also increases pressure to people in their workplace who are compelled to use them in order to meet the demands of challenging work environment. Therefore, it is not justified to use cognitive enhancers in academics or workplaces due to numerous problems they cause.

Works Cited

Berezin, Robert. “A New Drug to Erase Traumatic Memory is not a Good Thing.” Psychology Today, 2014,

Carey, Benedict. “Brain Enhancement is Wrong, Right?” The New York Times, 2008,

Greely, Henry, et al. “Towards Responsible Use of Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs by the Healthy.” Nature, vol. 456, no. 7223, 2008, pp. 702-705.

Langreth, Robert. ” Viagra for the Brain” Forbes, 2002,

Lehrer, Jonah. “The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever.” Wired, 2012,

Lewis, Tanya. “Students Risk Brain Problems from ‘Smart’ Drugs.” Live Science, 2014,

Sax, Leonard. “ADHD. Drugs Have Long-Term Risks” The New York Times, 2012,

Sifferlin, Alexandra. “Bad News For Ivy Leaguers: ADHD Drugs Hurt Your Memory.” Time, 2014,

Tuller, David. “The Race for a Pill to Save Memory.” The New York Times, 2003,

Urban, Kimberly R., and Wen-Jun, Gao. “Performance Enhancement at the Cost of Potential Brain Plasticity: Neural Ramifications of Nootropic Drugs in the Healthy Developing Brain.” Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, vol 8, no. 38, 2014, Frontiers Media SA, doi:10.3389/fnsys.2014.00038.

Wolbring, Gregor. “Hearing Beyond the Normal Enabled by Therapeutic Devices: The Role of the Recipient and the Hearing Profession.” Neuroethics, vol 6, no. 3, 2011, pp. 607-616. doi:10.1007/s12152-011-9120-x.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 10%
Total Price:
$10.99 $35.97
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price