16 December 2008

Cognitive Enhancement: Smart Drugs Fast Track

We all know university students who are taking Ritalin, Provigil, or other cognitive enhancers in order to compete better on the academic battleground. Professionals from many backgrounds also try to give themselves a career advantage with such smart drugs. Using fMRI on healthy volunteers taking Provigil (modafinil), neuroscientists are beginning to zero in on one likely mechanism of action for cognitive enhancers, which will allow for the faster and more targeted development of nootropics.
The drug modafinil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating narcolepsy, shift-work related sleep disorders and obstructive sleep apnea, and indicated for conditions including ADHD, Parkinson's disease and depression. But how it works has not been well understood until now.

"We have shown that the way modafinil works is by quieting activity in the LC and increasing its connections with the frontal cortex," said Cameron Carter, a UC Davis professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and senior author of the study.

"Now that we know how it works, we can develop better cognitive enhancers that can treat more people suffering from a wider variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, like ADHD, autism and schizophrenia," he said. _ScienceDaily
The demand for cognitive enhancers goes far beyond the competition for better grades and job performance for healthy young adults. A significant proportion of middle aged and older persons suffer from cognitive disorders which lead to confusion, forgetfulness, and a loss of ability to perform everyday normal activities of work and home life. The treatment of such acquired and debilitating cognitive disorders will drive the financing and research goals of neuro-cognitive science labs. But the competition for better grades and better career performance will provide a secondary motivation researchers and bystanders alike.

The use of smart drugs amounts to a type of "bootstrapping" of human consciousness, when used by neurocognitive researchers themselves to develop better means of achieving heightened cognition for impaired and healthy humans. For the long term, smart drugs will not be enough. Augmentation and modification of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms will be necessary in order for between-levels humans to step up to the next level.

Underlying the applied research into smart drugs and cognitive enhancement, is a massive ongoing research into systems biology, synthetic biology, bioinformatics, development of new research tools of all types, and a slow but steady transformation of popular expectation of what science can and should provide in the way of life enhancement.

Update: Here is a short but intriguing GNXP.com piece suggesting that part of the blame for the ongoing financials crash is due to the competitive use of amphetamines by financial analysts and traders. "A man's got to know his limitations." The abuse of amphetamines has certainly become a blight across many parts of the western world. A significant part of the abuse may begin as performance enhancement, which progresses to abject dependency and personal ruin in many cases.

It makes you wonder: how many ultra-aggressive politicians and celebrities owe some of their success to pharmaceuticals? A dependency upon caffeine is expected in high achievers. Addiction to nicotine is common as well. No reason to believe it stops there.

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Blogger Jack said...

Interesting post, man. Thanks for sharing.

I've been enjoying reading through your blog for a while now and I wanted to tell you about a homesteading, emergency preparedness, and survival forum that I am a member of, www.PreparedSociety.com. It has a ton of great information on simple and frugal living, financial insight, natural health and medicine, gardening, livestock, food storage, and much more!

I'm sure the members would love to hear from you! It's free and easy to sign up!

Hope to see ya there!


Tuesday, 16 December, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Thanks, Jack.

I've been meaning to place a link to prepared society for some time. Thanks for reminding me.


Tuesday, 16 December, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al Fin, I don't know about the US politicians, but I'm able to tell something about the italian politicians:


Over 50 representatives of the Camera dei Deputati (lower chamber in Italy) were wiped off with a drug wipe test without telling them during a fake TV interview.

32% was positive:
24% (12 people) positive to cannabis
8% (4 persone) alla cocaina.

Saturday, 27 December, 2008  

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