Re: supplement information

Anders Sandberg (
Thu, 10 Apr 1997 13:58:39 +0200 (MET DST)

On Wed, 9 Apr 1997, Max More wrote:

> Lee: I'm surprised. I agree that there isn't a whole lot of really good
> experimental evidence for smart drugs working on young, healthy people.
> However, there is plenty of good evidence that they work on people with
> cognitive deficits, and there appears to be *some* good experimental
> evidence for affects on young healthy people for at some of the substances.

Unfortunately the evidence is rather sparse and spotty, so it is hard to
evaluate. I would say there are intriguing results out there that
definitely merits further research, but hardly any proof.

> By good experimental evidence, I mean double-blind, controlled, cross-over
> experiments. One of the newest discoveries--ampakines--having been found to
> improve memory in older people, are being tested on young folks by
> researchers like Gary Lynch at UC Irvine.

Yes, this seems quite promising. I'm going to do some actual research now
on a memory model, and the professor of my research group (Martin Ingvar
of the Karolinska Institute) has been involved in testing the ampakines.
I'll see if I can get some useful data from him. (My memory model
actually suggests one possibility for how cholinergic nootropics work, but
it is just a hunch right now).

> Do you discount *all* the studies cited in books like Smart Drugs and
> Nutrients by Dean and Morgenthaler. Certainly, the evidence is often in
> terms of theoretical arguments that these substances ought to work and come
> along with pretty useless personal stories. However, there *are* some
> studies that apparently used good methodology. I'm wondering whether you
> just haven't come across these, or whether you have reasons to dispute all
> such cases.

I haven't read SDaN yet, but my impression is that it may be convincing
but not necessarily correct. Making sure a study has a good methodology
is HARD, especially in a fuzzy area such as cognitive medicine, and it is
easy to be fooled by one's convictions. A lot of arguments are built on
animal experiments (one of my recurring nightmares: the rat hippcampus
does something completely different from the human hippocampus) and
individual studies, which is weak. The nootropics movement really needs
some clear, careful research, but in the current situation that may be
hard to implement.

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