"We think in generalities, we live in details"
RE: virus: "We can remember it for you wholesale."*
« on: 2004-12-30 11:50:24 »
[Blunderov] Steroids for philosophers? Easy to imagine that the progress
towards designer philosophy drugs might have some nasty upsets along the
[Bug Eyed Earl]** I took some of them Wittgensteins the other night.
I think some one must have cut them dang pills with Hegel but I had a
good time anyway.
If you call 72 hours of alternately talking to yourself and grinding
your teeth having a good time.
Drugs for Better Chess?
21.12.2004 A new generation of "smart pills" are here. An article in the
Los Angeles Times talks about new drugs that help with performing mental
tasks. Researchers even use games to measure the improvement from these
"cognitive enhancers." Are you a few pills away from being a
New smart pills are here
A story at the Los Angeles Times by Melissa Healy discusses a new
generation of drugs that have been shown to be effective in improving
cognitive performance. Some excerpts from this fascinating article
follow. Would a chessplayer taking such drugs be like a weightlifter
taking steroids or should anything go as long as it's physically safe?
Many currently contend that since no drug has proven to help play better
chess, drug-testing chessplayers is ridiculous. Yet we all know even
common caffeine in a couple cups of coffee can make you sharper and
stave off tiredness in a long game. It's very unlikely that any drug
will ever make a 1600-player into a GM (sorry), or even turn a GM into a
super-GM. But it seems inevitable that these drugs will have a positive
effect on the play of at least some chessplayers.
By Melissa Healy, Times Staff Writer
December 20, 2004
Participating in a research project, Stenger downed a green gelatin cap
containing a drug called modafinil. Within an hour, his attention
sharpened. So did his memory. He aced a series of mental-agility tests.
If his brainpower would normally rate a 10, the drug raised it to 15, he
"I was quite focused," said Stenger. "It was also kind of fun."
The age of smart drugs is dawning. Modafinil is just one in an array of
brain-boosting medications - some already on pharmacy shelves and others
in development - that promise an era of sharper thinking through
These drugs may change the way we think. And by doing so, they may
change who we are.
The new mind-enhancing drugs, in contrast, hold the potential for more
powerful, more targeted and more lasting improvements in mental acuity.
Some of the most promising have reached the stage of testing in human
subjects and could become available in the next decade, brain scientists
"It's not a question of 'if' anymore. It's just a matter of time," said
geneticist Tim Tully, a researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on
Long Island, N.Y., and developer of a compound called HT-0712, which has
shown promise as a memory enhancer. The drug soon will be tested in
Cambridge University psychologist Barbara Sahakian considers modafinil
(marketed commercially under the name Provigil) especially intriguing.
Its developers aren't sure exactly how it keeps drowsiness at bay. But
even in healthy people, the medication appears to deliver measurable
improvements with few side effects.
In a series of experiments in 2001, Sahakian and colleagues found that
in games that test mental skill, subjects who took a 200-milligram dose
of modafinil paid closer attention and used information more effectively
than subjects given a sugar pill.
Confronted with conflicting demands, the people on modafinil moved more
smoothly from one task to the next and adjusted their strategies of play
with greater agility. In short, they worked smarter and were better at
"In my mind, it may be the first real smart drug," Sahakian said. "A lot
of people will probably take modafinil. I suspect they do already."
Judy Illes, a psychologist at Stanford's Center for Biomedical Ethics,
said mind-enhancing medicine could become "as ordinary as a cup of
coffee." This could be good for society, helping people learn faster and
retain more, she said.
But it also raises questions: Will the rich get smarter while the poor
fall further behind? (Drugs such as modafinil can cost as much as $6 per
Will people feel compelled to use the medications to keep up in school
or in the workplace? In a world where mental function can be tweaked
with a pill, will our notion of "normal intelligence" be changed
Eventually, ambitious parents will start giving mind-enhancing pills to
their children, said McGaugh, the UC Irvine neurobiologist.
"If there is a drug which is safe and effective and not too expensive
for enhancing memory in normal adults, why not normal children?" he
said. "After all, they're going to school, and what's more important
than education of the young? And what would be more important than
giving them a little chemical edge?"
The side effect that most neuroscientists fear is not physical
discomfort, but subtle mental change. Over time, a memory-enhancing drug
might cause people to remember too much detail, cluttering the brain.
Similarly, a drug that sharpens attention might cause users to focus too
intently on a particular task, failing to shift their attention in
response to new developments.
In short, someone who notices or remembers everything may end up
understanding nothing. </q>
** In loving homage to the incomparable http://www.redmeat.com/redmeat/
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