Cognition-Enhancing Drugs and Their Appropriateness for Aviation and Ground Troops: A Meta-Analysis
ARMY AEROMEDICAL RESEARCH LAB FORT RUCKER AL WARFIGHTER PERFORMANCE AND HEALTH DIV
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Currently, there are a number of pharmaceuticals available that have potential to enhance cognitive functioning which will inevitably be considered for use in military operations for enhancement purposes. Some drugs such as modafinil and caffeine have already been tested for use in military operations and some drugs used for cognition enhancement are already included in Army policy in terms of their approved use. There is considerable research available on these drugs. However, military policy regarding use must be based on high-quality research studies. The goal of this study was to review the literature and conduct a meta-analysis to determine quality of the research available and to synthesize the current state of knowledge of these potentially cognition enhancing drugs. A meta-analysis of the 3 studies that met all inclusion criteria revealed a relatively weak pooled effect of modafinil on some aspects of cognitive performance in normal, rested adults. 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.