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 ")

Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.' - James Blish, 1957.

Medical Tattoos Are STILL Being Researched
'Following the current craze, she has had a subdermal pattern of micro-channels implanted.'

Rise Of Skywalker Could Trigger Epileptic Seizures
'... then the screen started to flicker. I stared at it for a while.' - John Varley, 1984.

Injectable Magnetic Fluid Slows Bleeding, Aids Magneto
'There's something different about you.'

 

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

Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).

Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'

Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'

Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.'

Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'

The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'

Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'

Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'

Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'

Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'

NASA's Electric Motor Scooter
'...all the [lunar] prospectors took bicycles along as a matter of course'

Moving Suns To Different Galactic Neighborhoods
'...to swerve their star from its course, the globemen made use of a simple physical principle.'

Students Surveilled By School Phone Apps
Cheer up, students. '...cracking my SchoolBook had been easy.'

Massage Robot Has Soft Hands, Er, Pads
'The automatic massager began to fumble gently over my naked form.'

Medical Tattoos Are STILL Being Researched
'Following the current craze, she has had a subdermal pattern of micro-channels implanted.'

Elon Musk's Traffic Tunnel Challenge Is Boring
'The car vibrated... threading the maze of local tubes.'

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.