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Subjective stressors in school and their relation to neuroenhancement: a behavioral perspective on students’ everyday life “doping”

Wanja Wolff* and Ralf Brand

Author Affiliations

Department of Sport and Exercise Psychology, University Potsdam, Am Neuen Palais 10, 14469, Potsdam, Germany

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Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2013, 8:23  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-8-23

Published: 18 June 2013



The use of psychoactive substances to neuroenhance cognitive performance is prevalent. Neuroenhancement (NE) in everyday life and doping in sport might rest on similar attitudinal representations, and both behaviors can be theoretically modeled by comparable means-to-end relations (substance-performance). A behavioral (not substance-based) definition of NE is proposed, with assumed functionality as its core component. It is empirically tested whether different NE variants (lifestyle drug, prescription drug, and illicit substance) can be regressed to school stressors.


Participants were 519 students (25.8 ± 8.4 years old, 73.1% female). Logistic regressions indicate that a modified doping attitude scale can predict all three NE variants. Multiple NE substance abuse was frequent. Overwhelming demands in school were associated with lifestyle and prescription drug NE.


Researchers should be sensitive for probable structural similarities between enhancement in everyday life and sport and systematically explore where findings from one domain can be adapted for the other. Policy makers should be aware that students might misperceive NE as an acceptable means of coping with stress in school, and help to form societal sensitivity for the topic of NE among our younger ones in general.

Neuroenhancement; Stress; School; Doping