Re: Which is the better nootropic?

Anders Sandberg (
Tue, 26 Nov 1996 10:41:01 +0100 (MET)

On Mon, 25 Nov 1996, Max More wrote:

> According to what I read in (I think it was) Smart Drugs, caffeine
> definitely accelerates thinking, and boosts peformance at logical,
> mathematical reasoning, including tasks like computer programming. However,
> some study indicated that it may reduce the ability to find patterns in
> ambiguous or unclear data. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but it may
> suggest caffeine could make it harder to form clear ideas from the haze, as
> when you're trying to get ideas to coalesce for a piece of writing.

Some speculation from an amateur cognitive scientist: this seems to be
similar to the problem many people with eidetic memories have: their
memories do not generalize well, and hence do not form a coherent picture,
just an endless pile of clear images (for an extreme imaginary example,
read Borge's story "Fuentes").

Our memories are rather fuzzy, and usually contain more of our
elaborations on experiences than the experiences themselves. This way we
link them together into association chains and "the whole picture". Smart
drugs may make imprinting memories much easier, creating eidetic-like
memories that "stand alone". This is a bit like rote learning, where you
cram your head with facts (very easy using mnemotechniques) but cannot use
them, just recall them. If these speculations hold, then we might need to
look for another kind of smart drugs, that helps us generalize and
interlink memories rather than just store them. Perhaps this is one of the
functions of sleep.

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