Research News

Common drugs can affect moral decision making, study finds

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h3605 (Published 03 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3605
  1. Jacqui Wise
  1. 1London

Some commonly prescribed drugs can influence moral decisions, a double blind randomised controlled trial published in Current Biology has found.

Researchers from University College London1 found that healthy people given the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram (Celexa) were more likely to avoid harming themselves or others than those given placebo—whereas the Parkinson’s disease drug levodopa tended to make healthy people more selfish, eliminating the usual altruistic tendency to prefer harming oneself over others.

Levodopa boosts dopamine levels, whereas citalopram enhances serotonin levels. Serotonin and dopamine levels have …

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