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Prescription Stimulants Decrease Productivity in Neurotypical People

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Prescription stimulants such as Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine salts) and Ritalin (methylphenidate) decrease productivity in people who do not have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new study published in ScienceAdvances.1In the randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, 40 neurotypical adults, ages 18 to 35, were given either 30mg of methylphenidate, 15mg of dextroamphetamine, 200mg of modafinil, or a placebo, before being asked to solve a complex cognitive challenge that was representative of a real-life task.

The researchers found large increases in effort and time spent to solve the problem but decreased efficiency and accuracy among study participants on stimulants compared with those given a placebo.Further, participants who performed at a high level under placebo conditions tended to exhibit larger decreases in performance and productivity after receiving the stimulant.

On average, participants who were given methylphenidate took 50% longer to finish the task compared to the placebo group.“Our research shows drugs that are expected to improve cognitive performance may actually be leading to healthy users working harder while producing a lower quality of work in a longer amount of time,” says Dr.

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