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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 7 )
Related News Stories -
Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.' - Frank Herbert, 1976.
H-MEX Helpful Exoskeleton From Hyundai
'We have those new suits rigged with atomic-powered lifting gadgets...' - John W. Campbell, 1938.
3D Skin Printer Helps Burn Victims
'Over her lacerated right shoulder he sprayed art-derm...'- Philip K. Dick, 1960.
Can Virtual Reality help People Cope With Pain?
Research is promising.
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.
Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.'
When Computers Develop Their Own Language, Will They Talk To Us?
'The curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio...'
LipNet Reads Lips - Until Disconnected, That Is
'We'd have to cut his higher brain functions... I'm not sure what [HAL} would think about that.'
Eterni.me - To Skype With The Dead
'Nothing... left of Jeserac but a galaxy of electrons frozen in the heart of a crystal.'
Wearable MRI Is Former Occulus/Facebook Exec's New Project
'Your cephalochromoscope... that you always turn on and play when you get home...'
Ford Stratasys Infinte Build 3D Printer
'He proudly indicated his Buick... Almost as good as the original it was printed from...'
The Space Suit As Personal Spaceship
'Darn clever, these suits...'
Dune Fans! Your God Emperor Is Ready
'If one held a sandtrout in the hand, smoothing it over your skin, it formed a living glove.'
Robot Strolls Field, Examines EVERY Plant
'The great machines that did the work ... required but a few dozen men to cultivate an entire county.'
Sweden Outlaws Drones
'An eye that could not only see, but fly, roam, travel at speeds and in directions to suit its operator...'
Wear Your Self-Powered Generator
'It's basically a micro-sandwich...'
TITAN-III Spider Robot Is WAY Too Quick (Video)
'My little friends can find you wherever you go!'
Bill Gates Suggests Tax On Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot that 'appears or pretends to be human' had to be compensated...'
Handle, New Wheeled Hopping Robot
'the hopper sprang thirty feet into the air...'
Matrix Sentinel Ancestor, The Pipe Inspector Robot From Krakow
Watch out, Keanu!
Auto-Focus Smart Glasses Have Liquid Lenses
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories