[Pharmacological cognitive enhancement from a perspective of misuse and addiction]

Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr. 2015 Feb;83(2):83-90. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1398935. Epub 2015 Feb 27.
[Article in German]


Pharmacological "cognitive enhancement" (CE) and "pharmacological neuroenhancement" (PN) are different terms to describe the use of diverse substances by healthy individuals aiming at an increase of individual cognitive skills. Targets of CE are an increase of vigilance, attention, concentration, memory and motivation. Substances used for pharmacological CE can be divided into two categories: stimulants and non-stimulants. The sub-group of methylxanthines like caffeine as well as the sub-group of amphetamines like prescription and illicit amphetamine as well as methylphenidate and modafinil belongs to the group of stimulants; antidementives, antidepressants, phytopharmaceutical products like Ginkgo biloba etc. belong to the group of non-stimulants. Prevalence rates depend on the (type of) study and (group of) substances used for CE. And they range from a 1 % lifetime prevalence rate up to 20 % one-year prevalence rate. This review presents stimulant and non-stimulant substances, their limited clinical effects on cognitive skills as well as their prevalence rates and the aspect of misuse and addiction of the above-mentioned substances which belongs to their respective category.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Nootropic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Nootropic Agents