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Cognition Enhancement by Modafinil: A Meta-Analysis

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Kelley AM, Webb CM, Athy JR, Ley S, Gaydos S. Cognition enhancement by modafinil: a meta-analysis. Aviat Space Environ Med 2012; 83:685–90.

Introduction: Currently, there are a number of pharmaceuticals available that have potential to enhance cognitive functioning, some of which may ultimately be considered for such use in military operations. Some drugs with potential for cognition enhancement have already been studied for use in military operations specific to their primary effect in sleep regulation (i.e., dextroamphetamine, modafinil, caffeine). There is considerable information available on many of these drugs. However, considerations for military appropriateness must be based on proficient research (e.g., randomly controlled trial design). Methods: A meta-analysis was conducted to summarize the current state of knowledge of these potentially cognition-enhancing drugs. The analysis only included studies which met inclusion criteria relevant to military research. Results: The results of the literature review reveal a gap in research of the enhancement properties of the drugs of interest. The results yielded three studies (all of which studied modafinil) that met the criteria. The meta-analysis of these three studies revealed a relatively weak pooled effect of modafinil on some aspects of cognitive performance in normal, rested adults. Discussion: While the results of this study support the efficacy of modafinil, the main finding is the large literature gap evaluating the short- and long-term effects of these drugs in healthy adults.

Keywords: cognition; performance enhancement; pharmaceuticals

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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