Smart Pills: 'Steroids' For Brainiacs?

Students around the world are experimenting with prescription pharmaceuticals to get an edge on their classmates. So-called "smart pills" are thought to enhance cognitive function and enhance alertness over a longer period of time; just like elite athletes trying to get that one-tenth of one percent advantage, bright students are hacking their neurochemistry with the same goal.

A 2005 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology documented the effect of the Alzheimer's drug Donepezil on 30 healthy male students. The study showed that taking the drug for 30 days significantly improved short term memory and some long term memory faculties.

Other prescription drugs that have been used for cognitive enhancement include Adderall (originally aimed at people with attention-deficit disorder) and Provigil (for narcoleptics). The effect of these drugs on healthy people varies; concentration, alertness, focus and short-term memory are all affected (usually positively, a useful aid for students cramming for exams).

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, as many as 2.25 million middle school and high school students make use of Ritalin - not for attention deficit disorder (for which it is FDA-approved) - but for academic performance enhancement.

According to neurologist and researcher Richard Restak, as many as ninety percent of senior business school students in his study reported at least occasional use of such smart pills as Adderall, Ritalin and Strattera.

People are seeking smart foods as well. Sales of fish in British university towns have reportedly gone up, as reports that salmon, trout and cod are rich in omega 3 oils that reputedly aid in brain development.

Smart pills were also on the agenda at an education conference earlier this year at Bristol University. Paul Howard-Jones, the conference's organiser at the Graduate School of Education, said:

"This is science fact not science fiction. There is likely to be a big market for these drugs and as educators we need to be more informed about it. What are the ethical implications and questions? Will there be pressures to use them in the future?"
(From Smarter drugs for all?)

Science fiction authors are already aware of this trend. Daniel Pearlman, a professor of English at University of Rhode Island, wrote a science fiction novel on this topic in 2003. Memini is about a century-distant future in which the world is run by amnesiacs; the world is divided into "tekkies" and "oldfolks." The tekkie elite owes their political and economic preeminence to smart pills, which increase their capacity for manipulating data, but gradually destroy their personal memories. Oldfolks shun the pill and refuse to give up their sense of tradition, history, and morality.

Science fiction fans (and stressed students who think that if they just didn't need to sleep, they could study more) should also take a look at a-som, an antisomnolence drug that actually makes sleep unnecessary, from Shuteye for the Timebroker, a 2006 story by Paul Di Filippo. Take a look at A dose of genius and Smart Drugs for more information.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/12/2006)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 7 )

Related News Stories - (" Medical ")

Mind-Altering Drugs Administered Deep Into The Brain
'Happy to serve!'- Greg Bear, 2015.

BRUISE Smart Injury Detection Suit
'... Bee could see that three of them were disabled and two of them damaged.' - Orson Scott Card, 1985.

First US Clinical Trial For Wearable Artificial Kidney
'Wholly mechanical organs...' - Philip K. Dick, 1964.

Open Bionics To Produce Deus Ex Prosthetic Designs
Be a part of a science fictional future.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Mobility Scooters Go Offroad
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

RAMST - Robotically Assembled Modular Space Telescope
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards, balanced delicately...'

Terminal Snooping At Bloomberg
'The evidence began with a slowed response at her computer terminal.'

Will There Be A Digital Afterlife?
'A quick exchange of energies resulting from the relocation of discorporate states.'

ROCKY - Resistive Overload Combined With Kinetic Yo-Yo
'Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses..'

China Bans Self-Driving Car Testing
Innovation hits some bumps.

Robotic Lawnmower Fulfills SciFi Homeowner's Dreams
'The mower reached the edge of the lawn, clucked to itself like a contented hen...'

7-Eleven Drone Delivers Chix Sandwich And Slurpee
'It was a smooth ovoid floating a few inches from the floor...'

Beta-Ti3Au Titanium-Gold Alloy Hardest Tissue-Compatible Metal
It needs a more science-fictional name!

Solar Plane Circles The Globe
'Tropism-like pursuit of the sun across the sky as they recharged their batteries...'

Audiobooks - Fastest Growing Format In Publishing
'The public preferred lectons...'

SuperMeat - Crowdfunding Pohl/Kornbluth's Chicken Little
'Chicken Little, who would be sliced and packed to feed people from Baffinland to Little America.'

Martian-Grown Food Might Be Fine
'I donít want to come off as arrogant here, but Iím the best botanist on the planet.'

MARLO Robot Attempts Wave Field
'It is apparent that he will walk before his human brother.'

3RDiTEK Lifeblogging Headband Camera
'It's logging anyway - everything you see on duty goes into the black box.'

3D-Printed Biohybrid Is A Tissue-Engineered Robot
'The directing neurological tissue that forms the basis of the swibble is alive...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.