Tagsmart drugs

Coffee: The Original Smart Drug and Aphrodisiac

Coffee: Grounds for Debate, a title in the Philosophy for Everyone series, argues that coffee is a performance-enhancing drug for thinkers. “The appropriate analogy is that coffee and philosophy go together like foreplay and sex,” insist editors Scott F Parker and Michael W Austin. “You can have one without the other, but the latter is better with the former and the former often leads to the latter.” Philosopher Basam Romaya says: “With the use of coffee, critical thinking abilities are sharpened, attention to detail enhanced.” This is a venerable claim: in the 16th century, Sheik Abd-al-Kadir, an Arab scholar, said: “No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.” […]

So what about impotence? That does seem to have been overstated. The Women’s Petition Against Coffee prompted a broadside from men who argued that it “makes the erection more Vigorous, the Ejaculation more full, adds spiritualescency to the Sperme”. Initially I wasn’t sure what “spiritualescency” means, either, until I read in this book that caffeine increases sperm motility. That said, some say coffee may harm the sperm while speeding it on its way, which makes a kind of sense.

The Guardian: Can coffee wreck your marriage?

(via James Governor)

UK Considers Regulating Intelligence Enhancing Drugs

Provigil

The government’s official experts on illegal drugs have been asked to look at whether intelligence-enhancing drugs, such as those used by students to boost performance in exams, should be banned.

Medical experts believe that a range of psychoactive drugs that includes those used to tackle the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and attention-deficit disorder in children, could fuel an already over-competitive society when used by the healthy.

Amid fears that the increase in online pharmacies means that such drugs are much more readily available, the Home Office has asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to see how this “rapidly evolving field” should be regulated. Just before she stepped down from office, the previous home secretary, Jacqui Smith, asked the advisory council to assess the harm – including that of possible psychological dependence or addiction – caused by this group of drugs when used by healthy adults.

Guardian: Government watchdog considers ban on IQ booster drugs

Photo by nym (CC)

A drug that could give you perfect visual memory

RGS-14

Imagine if you could look at something once and remember it forever. You would never have to ask for directions again. Now a group of scientists has isolated a protein that mega-boosts your ability to remember what you see.

A group of Spanish researchers reported today in Science that they may have stumbled upon a substance that could become the ultimate memory-enhancer. The group was studying a poorly-understood region of the visual cortex. They found that if they boosted production of a protein called RGS-14 (pictured) in that area of the visual cortex in mice, it dramatically affected the animals’ ability to remember objects they had seen.

io9: A drug that could give you perfect visual memory

(via Edge of Tomorrow)

Ritalin boosts learning by increasing brain plasticity

Ritalin

Doctors treat millions of children with Ritalin every year to improve their ability to focus on tasks, but scientists now report that Ritalin also directly enhances the speed of learning.

In animal research, the scientists showed for the first time that Ritalin boosts both of these cognitive abilities by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine deep inside the brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers neurons use to communicate with each other. They release the molecule, which then docks onto receptors of other neurons. The research demonstrated that one type of dopamine receptor aids the ability to focus, and another type improves the learning itself.

The scientists also established that Ritalin produces these effects by enhancing brain plasticity – strengthening communication between neurons where they meet at the synapse. Research in this field has accelerated as scientists have recognized that our brains can continue to form new connections – remain plastic – throughout life.

PhysOrg: Ritalin boosts learning by increasing brain plasticity

(via Chris S.)

Universities told to consider testing for smart drugs

smart drugs

Universities must investigate measures, including random dope testing, to tackle the increasing use of cognitive enhancment drugs by students for exams, a leading behavioural neuro­scientist warns.

Student use of drugs, such as Ritalin and modafinil, available over the internet and used to increase the brain’s alertness, had “enormous implications for universities”, said Barbara Sahakian, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at Cambridge University’s psychiatry department.

Normally prescribed for neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, such drugs boost acetylcholine in the brain, improving alertness and attention. Their use has prompted concerns that they could give students an unfair advantage. “This is something that universities really have to discuss. They should have some strategy, some kind of active policy,” Sahakian said.

Guardian: Universities told to consider dope tests as student use of ‘smart drugs’ soars

(via h+)

Previous look at smart drugs here at Technoccult

Smart drugs article from the New Yorker

This has been in my virtual “to read” pile for a long time. It’s more interesting than I expected.

If we eventually decide that neuroenhancers work, and are basically safe, will we one day enforce their use? Lawmakers might compel certain workers—emergency-room doctors, air-traffic controllers—to take them. (Indeed, the Air Force already makes modafinil available to pilots embarking on long missions.)

New Yorker: The underground world of “neuroenhancing” drugs.

I tried piracetam in college, but between the cost (I had to order it from Biogenesis Labs and the way it made my stomach feel, I didn’t think it was worth the slight boost.

I have found that Biotest Laboratory’s Spike is an effective “cognitive enhancer,” however. I used it during both Esozones to keep alert and productive on very little sleep under high pressure circumstances. You used to be able to buy it at GNC, but it seems they don’t carry it any more. You can still buy it online. I didn’t find the energy drink they market to be as effective as the pills.

Spike’s “secret sauce” is “thiamine di(2-methylpropionate) disulfide.” It sounds fancy, and they make an effort to make it appear they have something new and exclusive, but it’s really just a chemical name for sulbutiamine, which has been around since the classic Smart Drugs book and was reviewed in Mondo 2000.

Although it’s old, by no means do I consider this product “safe” – use at your own risk.

How to add 1 billion points to the global I.Q. cheaply and easily

Almost one-third of the world’s people don’t get enough iodine from food and water. The result in extreme cases is large goiters that swell their necks, or other obvious impairments such as dwarfism or cretinism. But far more common is mental slowness.

When a pregnant woman doesn’t have enough iodine in her body, her child may suffer irreversible brain damage and could have an I.Q. that is 10 to 15 points lower than it would otherwise be. An educated guess is that iodine deficiency results in a needless loss of more than 1 billion I.Q. points around the world. […]

“Probably no other technology,” the World Bank said of micronutrients, “offers as large an opportunity to improve lives … at such low cost and in such a short time.”

Yet the strategy hasn’t been fully put in place, partly because micronutrients have zero glamour. There are no starlets embracing iodine. And guess which country has taken the lead in this area by sponsoring the Micronutrient Initiative? Hint: It’s earnest and dull, just like micronutrients themselves.

Ta-da — Canada!

Full Story: New York Times

(Thanks Justin)

Smart drugs are back

The Economist on new smart drugs:

At least 40 potential cognitive enhancers are currently in clinical development, says Harry Tracy, publisher of NeuroInvestment, an industry newsletter based in Rye, New Hampshire. Some could reach the market within a few years. For millions, these breakthroughs could turn out to be lifesavers or, at the very least, postpone the development of a devastating disease. In America alone, there are currently about 4.5m people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and their ranks are expected to grow to 6m by 2020. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), defined as memory loss without any significant functional impairment, is estimated to afflict at least another 4.5m people. Because the majority of MCI patients will eventually develop Alzheimer’s, many doctors believe that intervening in the early stages of the disease could significantly delay its onset.

The Economist: Supercharging the brain

(via R.U. Sirius).

Just Say Yes to Performance-enhancing Drugs

A column about performance-enhancing drugs on Better Humans:

While competitive chess players probably wouldn’t benefit from anabolic steroids, since most chess pieces aren’t that heavy, they can benefit from drugs that enhance cognitive performance. The list is broader than you think. While interviewing an ICF medical commission doctor a few years back, I learned that at least one chess competitor plays better drunk.

Better Humans: Just Say Yes to Performance-enhancing Drugs

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