In the last decade, persons who have no diagnosed medical or mental health condition are increasingly seeking and utilizing, for the ostensible purpose of enhancing their memory or cognitive skills, prescription drugs that were originally developed to improve executive function or memory in persons diagnosed with disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or Alzheimer disease. Evidence suggests that this practice, now known as neuroenhancement, is gathering momentum. As a result, neurologists may be encountering patients without a diagnosed illness asking for medications with the goal of improving their memory, cognitive focus, or attention span. Strong arguments have been made for and against this practice, often reflecting strongly held convictions concerning the appropriate practice of medicine. The purpose of this report is to provide neurologists with an overview of the ethical, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of pharmaceuticals prescribed to enhance or augment normal cognitive or affective functioning, as well as practical guidance for responding to an adult patient’s request for neuroenhancement.

Richard J. Bonnie et al., Responding to Requests from Adult Patients for Neuroenhancements: Guidance of the Ethics, Law and Humanities Committee, 73 Neurology 1406–1412 (2009).