Speed actually good for the mind?

By davidBuster23 · Oct 1, 2004 · ·
  1. davidBuster23
    I saw this in the paper this morning and thought you tweakers would enjoy it. Apparently speed isn't all bad -- now I think I'm going to have to get my hands on some and see if this article is true...

    And I'd be interested to know if anyone has had access to any of the other drugs mentioned here
    New Ethical Minefield:
    Drugs to Boost Memory
    And Sharpen Attention
    Move over, Botox. Although injections of the most potent natural toxin known to science are marketed as knife-free plastic surgery to reduce wrinkles, Botox treatment is actually a neurological intervention.
    The toxin blocks the release of a neurochemical, acetylcholine, from neurons. That makes it the opening act in what promises -- or threatens -- to be a significant new drama. Welcome to "cosmetic neurology."
    Sure, there have been reports over the years of, shall we say, recreational use of prescription pharmaceuticals. Some musicians and nervous public speakers take beta blockers (a heart drug) to vanquish stage fright. Modafinil (aka Provigil) is a stimulant approved for narcolepsy, but it has an underground following among those who want to feel as alert and rested after five hours of sleep as after eight. Ritalin, for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, improves concentration and the ability to plan, making it popular among healthy adults who simply want an edge in multitasking.
    A string of recent discoveries, many of them from small studies that have flown under the radar, suggest that this is only the beginning. Ritalin, for instance, specifically boosts spatial working memory, or the ability to remember layouts and locations. Just the thing for back-country hikers, perhaps, or architects mentally juggling blueprints?
    Compounds called cholinesterase inhibitors boost levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which lets neurons communicate with each other. One, donepezil (sold as Aricept), is approved for Alzheimer's disease. But that may be only one of its talents. In a 2002 study, scientists gave donepezil to one group of healthy, middle-age pilots and dummy pills to another. The donepezil group did markedly better learning maneuvers in a Cessna 172 simulator, particularly those used in flight emergencies.
    Some drugs that affect memory work very selectively. So-called CREB inhibitors (CREB is a protein essential for incising memories in the brain) "seem to selectively erase only disturbing memories," says neurologist Anjan Chatterjee of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. And propanolol, a beta blocker, enhances the memory of events that are emotionally charged and that the brain otherwise suppresses. It also seems to erase the negative emotions associated with bad memories. Healthy people given the drug recall disturbing stories as if they were no more emotionally charged than a grocery list.
    It's not that neuroscientists are deliberately looking for drugs that might be used for cosmetic neurology. Rather, these more frivolous uses are being discovered serendipitously, often in research on serious neurological diseases such as stroke. For instance, scientists find that small doses of amphetamines help stroke patients undergoing physical therapy relearn motor skills, such as tying shoes and using utensils, better and more quickly than with therapy alone. Taken half an hour before a therapy session, amphetamines seem to promote what's called neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to form new connections or strengthen existing ones between its neurons. Those connections underlie both simple and complex sequences of movement.
    "With amphetamines, the effects of therapy are more pronounced," says Dr. Chatterjee. "And animal studies suggest that pairing amphetamines with motor training leads to greater brain plasticity."
    The day may be coming when perfectly healthy people will pop speed before a tennis lesson or piano instruction, knowing it may stimulate the brain rewiring that underlies a perfect backhand or a flawless "Für Elise." Botox, after all, originally received government approval to treat two serious eye-muscle disorders, and now aging boomers regard a quick fix as no more momentous than a swipe of mascara. Cosmetic neurology could well follow the same arc, which means that the time for neurologists to weigh in on the ethical implications of all this is now.
    Those implications are profound. If drugs can improve learning, make painful memories fade and sharpen attention, should physicians prescribe them? Must physicians prescribe them? Must patients -- perhaps pilots compelled by an employer -- take them? Might one airline distinguish itself from competitors by advertising its donepezil-taking crews?
    Dr. Chatterjee captures the dilemma in a paper he wrote for the current issue of Neurology: "The distinction between therapy and enhancement can be vague, particularly when the notion of 'disease' lacks clear boundaries. ... If one purpose of medicine is to improve the quality of life of individuals who happen to be sick, then should medical knowledge be applied to those who happen to be healthy," lifting patients from normal functioning to enhanced functioning?
    We can wring our hands all we want about pills that make learning more effective without greater effort, offending the belief that gains should be hard-earned, or about drugs that selectively erase painful memories, evoking a Brave New World of the happily drugged -- and less-than-fully human. I have a feeling it won't make much difference. "Patient" has become synonymous with "consumer," someone unlikely to take kindly to physicians, let alone ethicists, blocking his or her pursuit of self-improvement and happiness.

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  1. OccularFantasm
    This could be quite interesting. Swim has taken ritalin and adderal and knows exactly what is said about increased memory capacity and accuracy. Swim thinks it will be funny if these drugs get made and sold legally. Its just common sense to assume Senor Notsosmart will take them above the reccomened dose and get sick, which will get much media attention, and then the substance will be banned or at least severly restricted. This will happen in the U.S. anyway. All you swimmers in other countries would know ur government better than swim so swim wont even guess. Swim can see researchers end up saying speed makes you smart but less pleasureable, as it inevitable leads to depletion dopamine and adrenaline. Swim jus really wants to read the first overdose report, but then again swim is not wrapped too tight, and enjoys hearing about stupid people getting hurt or dying. But then again, who couldn't use a little bit of manic-cynicism?
  2. enquirewithin
    This article is years out of date. Millions of college students know that 'speed' helps you study and to remember later in exams, get assignments done very fast and so on. The problem is that with regular use amphetamines cause psychological problems-- they have many unwanted side effects.
  3. tayo
    That's true, it seems like there is a also a link between lack of good nutrition when using amphetamines, so if the brain is working twice as hard it needs twice the energy, and as an appetite suppressant, it may not repair itself properly if it doesn't get what it needs to do that.. and speeding up metabolism can change alot of things like electrolytes and fluid retention because of the diuretic effect and depleted electrolytes can cause nerve damage especially when stressed for building the memory out of scraps, etc. sometimes the brain can't create new memories, or memories are fragmented, because it is trying to cram in more than can be repaired.
  4. jesusfreak666er
    swim didnt know that such findings were really new concepts.... since its conception speed has been used for just that, as a physical and mental performance enhancer.... it is drug of choice among many athletes, famously hockey players, cyclists, among many others.... and for its mental effects and confidence boosting ability great leaders (i say great although hitler was clearly a deranged and evil bastard) used speed such as JFK and most famously hitler. swim didnt take the SATS that long ago and it is common knowledge that half of the kids applying to competitive colleges take adderall before testing for just that reason. Swim thinks speed (dextro in his case) is a miracle drugs however if used habitually the ugly side comes to life, the mood swings and posssible amphetamine psychosis not to mention the secondary side effects from malnutrition and sleep depreviation... so ye speed is a double edged sword, a miracle drugs when respected and curse when taken for granted. so thats swims yayo induced rant, enjoy
  5. psyche
    I think a certain talented psychoanalyst already discovered the hidden powers of the stimulants. At that time he ofcourse had non-biased look at the substance. Too bad they thought at the time that the better a substance alleviates symptoms, the better it fights the disease. And the hurrendous side-effect profile of synthetics was expected by no one, since plant preparations tended to be pretty safe even in long term.
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