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Other Drugs for Neurohacking [‘smart’ drugs etc.]
Latest (2010) chemicals used for intelligence enhancement: Adderall, a stimulant composed of mixed amphetamine salts, (is commonly prescribed for ADHD). Increases dopamine and norepinephrine.
Ampakines, which target a type of glutamate receptor in the brain; prescribed for memory loss associated with diseases like Alzheimer’s. Improve working memory, attention and alertness, improves communication between the two brain hemispheres.. Four structural classes of ampakine drugs have been developed so far, most useful are the racetam drugs such aspiracetam and aniracetam.
Aricept, an Alzheimer's drug that may also enhance memory in healthy adults. Thought to reduce the breakdown of acetylcholine.
Centrophenoxine raises brain acetylcholine levels thereby increasing alertness and attention span and improving learning ability.
Cholinesterase inhibitors, which are already being used with some success to treat Alzheimer’s patients. Improve alertness and memory recall.
Desmospressin (see: Vasopressin) Bovine and porcine versions of Vasopressin such as Diapid (Lypressin and Argipressin) have been withdrawn from the World market. They are being replaced by a synthetic version called Desmopressin, (branded DesmoSpray or Minurin). Desmospressin has more potency and a longer half-life than the previous animal-sourced Vasopressin.
Donepezil (Aricept ), Improves verbal and visual episodic memory and sensorimotor responses.
Galantamine, is extracted from the snowdrop plant (a type of daffodil) and is used as an Alzheimer's treatment under the brand name Reminyl. Improves memory and learning ability. Inhibits acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine (the brain neurotransmitter necessary for learning and memory), stimulates brain nicotinic receptors, and reduces the build up of amyloid plaque (deposits containing amyloid peptide and dead neurons) in the brain.
Huperzine A (Huperzia serrata) is found in Chinese Moss and enhances mental functioning by prolonging the life of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Idebenone, increases Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the brain. Evidence for benefits is sparse, although it is a powerful anti-oxidant it has side effects, possible gastrointestinal disturbances, dizziness, headaches, anxiety and uneasiness and sleep alterations.
Green tea is just as powerful an anti-oxidant and comes without these snags.
Magnesium – a mineral found in nuts, legumes and green vegetables such as spinach – may be as effective a memory enhancer as genetic manipulation. The magnesium ion blocks entry to the NMDA receptor so more magnesium forces brain cells to increase expression levels of the more efficient NR2B to compensate.
Phenserine, a potent acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Improves focus, concentration and alertness.
Picamilon, enhances cerebral circulation. Picamilon is used in Russia to treat anxiety, depression, headaches, glaucoma, and eye disorders.
Piracetam, Factual data on piracetam’s benefits for healthy people are virtually nonexistent, it is thought to enhance acetylcholine, and many users believe that the drug increases blood flow to the brain and improves association. Unifiram and Sunifiram are active in extremely small amounts (fractions of a milligram). Korphendon, also called Phentropyl, is a ‘racetam’, from Russia.
Provigil, known generically as modafinil or adafinil, which was developed to treat narcolepsy, and Nuvigil, a longer-lasting variant of Provigil. Increases dopamine and norepinephrine, improves attention, concentration and alertness.
Pyrinitol, used since 1961 for various cognitive conditions such as dementia, head injury, stroke recovery, coma, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and cerebral circulatory disorders. Improves memory, concentration, and to enhance information processing.
Ritalin (methylphenidate), commonly prescribed for ADHD. Increases dopamine and norepinephrine. Improves attention & focus.
Rolipram, Originally used as an antidepressant. May elevate levels of cyclic adenosine monophosphate to boost memory. Improves cognition in rats.
Selegiline (Deprenyl) is an amphetamine analogue without the negative side effects, and with a different pharmacological action.
Neuroprotective, it increases myelination and improves memory, alertness and focus.
Vasopressin (& Desmopressin), Vasopressin is a peptide hormone found naturally in the brain and is partly responsible for the formation of memories. Its effects rapidly improve short-term memory and enhance memory imprints (i.e. after the event). Using vasopressin (nasal spray) 15 minutes before recall or concentration is required produces a marked affect, sometimes within seconds, which can then last for a few hours.
Vasopressin or desmopressin should be avoided if you suffer from cardiovascular problems, and only used infrequently, (i.e. only as necessary). Side effects include nausea and headaches. Caution, avoid the intake of large amounts of liquids when using Vasopressin, as the drug's “approved” use is to decrease the frequency of urination, excessive water intake can dilute salt in the body leading to vomiting and in the worst possible case- convulsions.
Vinpocentine, is a periwinkle plant extract that dilates arteries of the brain but does not dilate other blood vessels. Improves the brain's utilization of glucose, and increases ATP within the brain's neurons.
Best of the Mixes (2010)
Contains Huperzine A (an extract from Chinese moss that prevents brain deterioration), periwinkle extract, Aniracetam and Oxiracetam, which are both in the Racetam family, like Piracetam, Vinpocetine, Centrophenoxine, Picamilon, Idebenone, Galantamine, and Pyritinol (a drug used in Europe to aid healing in severe head trauma). Improves focus and memory, and enhances creativity.
Contains tuna-fish–oil extract (omega 3), omega-6 fatty acids, borage oil. Omega 3 improves overall brain condition, assists myelination and improves concentration, memory and comprehension. Borage oil is an anti-inflammatory. Claims to contain 40 brain-boosting substances but most seem to be minerals and vitamins, which may or may not be chelated. Read the jar carefully.
Latest Research (2010)
There are over 100 compounds in clinical development right now focused on treating some form of memory loss. The most promising are looking at transgenic over-expression of the NR2B gene, which in turn increased communication between NMDA receptor sites maybe a hundred milliseconds longer than normal, just enough to enhance learning and memory.
Stimulant drugs such as nicotine and caffeine have long been used to improve cognition. In the case of nicotine a complex interaction with attention and memory occurs, and several pharmaceutical companies are working on drugs that target nicotine receptors in the brain, in the hope that they can replicate the cognitive uptick that smokers get from cigarettes.
Advances in the scientific understanding of memory enabled the development of drugs with more specific actions, such as drugs stimulating the cholinergic system, which is involved in gating attention and memory encoding. Current interest is focused on intervening in the process of permanent encoding in the synapses, a process which has been greatly elucidated in recent years and is a promising target for drug development.
Pharmacological agents might be useful not only for increasing memory retention but also for unlearning phobias and addictions. Potentially, the combination of different drugs administered at different times could give users a more fine-grained control of their learning processes, perhaps even the ability to deliberately select specific memories that they want to retain or get rid of.
Working memory can be modulated by a variety of drugs. Drugs that stimulate the dopamine system have demonstrated effects, as do cholinergic drugs (possibly through improved encoding). Modafinil has been shown to enhance working memory in healthy test subjects, especially at harder task difficulties and for lower-performing subjects. (Similar findings of stronger improvements among low performers were also seen among the dopaminergic drugs, and this might be a general pattern for many cognitive enhancers.) Modafinil has been found to increase forward and backward digit span, visual pattern recognition memory, spatial planning, and reaction time/latency on different working memory tasks. What seems to happen is that modafinil enhances adaptive response inhibition, making the subjects evaluate a problem more thoroughly before responding, thereby improving performance accuracy. The working memory effects might thus be part of a more general enhancement of executive function.
Naps are more effective in maintaining performance than modafinil and amphetamine during long (48h) periods of sleep deprivation, while the reverse holds for short (24h) periods of sleep deprivation. Naps followed by a modafinil dose may be more effective than either one on its own. These results, together with studies on hormones like melatonin which can control sleep rhythms, suggest that drugs can enable fine-tuning of alertness patterns to improve task performance under demanding circumstances or disturbed sleep cycles.
There also exist drugs that influence how the cerebral cortex reorganizes in response to damage or training. Noradrenergic agonists such as amphetamine have been shown to promote faster recovery of function after a brain lesion when combined with training, and to improve learning of an artificial language. A likely explanation is that higher excitability increases cortical plasticity, in turn leading to synaptic sprouting and remodeling.
An alternative to pharmacologic increase of neuromodulation is to electrically stimulate the neuromodulatory centers that normally control plasticity through attention or motivation. (See ‘tech’ section).