Saturday, April 28, 2007

Can 'Genius Pills' Boost Your Brain Power?

The government is assessing the impact of a new generation of drugs that are claimed to make people more intelligent.

The Department of Health has asked the Academy of Medical Sciences to assess these so-called "cognition enhancing" drugs, some of which are already being widely used in the US.

In the 1960s the self styled guru, Dr Timothy Leary, urged American youth to "tune in, turn on and drop out".

Now a new generation of so-called designer drugs are becoming available.

But instead of fuelling a new drop-out culture, they are being used by people who think they will help them do better at school and work.

One of these drugs, Modafinil, was developed to treat people who involuntarily fall asleep.

Dr Danielle Turner, of the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at Cambridge University, tested the drug out on 60 healthy volunteers.

It did not just keep them awake. She found that the effects on their brains were much more dramatic.

"We tested them two hours after they had taken a single dose of Modafinil and found quite strong improvements in performance, particularly when things got difficult," she said.

"That was interesting - as problems got harder, their performance seemed to improve. With Modafinil they seemed to think a bit longer and they were more accurate."


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