Re: SmartDrug Questions

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Feb 01 2000 - 06:02:39 MST

Ramez Naam <> writes:

> A word on effectiveness: There are a few indications that are at least some
> of these substances in high dosages are effective in improving long term
> memory in mammals. However, the size of the effect seen here is small, and
> there is no evidence of impact on short term memory (which is more closely
> correlated with problem solving and general intelligence). Also note that
> the evidence on long term memory suggests that it is dosage of the drug
> during *encoding* of the memory that is most relevant (rather than during
> *retrieval* of the memory).

As the resident memory researcher, I would just like to add that the
above seems to fit my knowledge of the field.

A further problem is that many of the memory enhancer drugs likely act
by increasing the plasticity of the hippocampus either directly or
through various relevance-signals. This would imply that they also
make forgetting faster, at least in intermediate memory. I have some
new results that place constraints on this, but I have to wait until
the paper is accepted before I start explaining more. (sorry)

> What is more clear is that a large number of drugs classified as nootropics
> are powerful neuroprotectants, likely to protect against ageing, anoxia, and
> cognition-degrading drugs. So from that perspective use may well be
> justified. I would set your expectations fairly low as far as immediate and
> obvious effects on your current cognitive powers, though.

As a rule of thumb, the effects seem to be 10-20% better in most
tests. To get a qualitative improvement, better encoding strategies
(mnemonics, study techniques, attention control) are better.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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