Bad news, overachievers: taking so-called “smart pills” like Adderall and Ritalin to improve your mental performance probably doesn’t actually work. It’s a trend that’s been sweeping through colleges, and even the ranks of adult professionals, but scientists are having trouble finding brain-boosting effects of the drug in studies, the Daily Beast reports. In fact, one recent study indicates that Adderall simply makes you think you’re performing better than you are.
Researchers gave a group of healthy 20-somethings a test both before and after taking a pill. Then they asked how much the pill had affected their performance. Those who had taken Adderall were much more likely to think they got an edge than those who took the placebo—but they didn’t score any better. Other tests have also failed to find any substantial benefits from the pills. “There’s a huge, obvious empirical question here,” says the study’s leader. “Are they really helping?”