Chapter Two: Smart Pills’n Such — Cognitive Enhancement the Easy Way


“… alpha-CaM kinase II …”: L. Gravitz, Selectively deleting memories, Technology Review, Oct. 22, 2008, www.technologyreview.com/news/411076/selectively-deleting-memories.

“The common anti-diabetic drug metformin, for example, can make mice learn water mazes better; they even grow more neurons in the process.” J. Wang, D. Gallagher, L. DeVito, G. Cancino, D. Tsui, L. He, G. Keller, P. Frankland, D. Kaplan, F. Miller, Metformin activates an atypical PKC-CBP pathway to promote neurogenesis and enhance spatial memory formation, Cell Stem Cell [sic], 2012, vol. 11, issue 1, pp. 23–35, www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell/retrieve/pii/S1934590912001749.

Table 1. Some cognitive enhancement substances and activities.”,

  • (i) For entries caffeine through methylphenidate, review and additional references provided in A. Sandberg and N. Bostrom, Converging cognitive enhancements, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2006, vol. 1093, pp. 201–227, www.nickbostrom.com/papers/converging.pdf.
  • (ii) For hydromel, an ancient recipe is: Pour some water (“hydro”) and honey (“mel”) into a container. Mix well. Enjoy!
  • (iii) For modafinil, armodafinil is a newer drug available as nuvigil but not available as a generic.
  • (iv) For piracetam and Hydergine, simply start with a web search.
  • (v) For donepezil, see M. S. Mumenthaler, et al., Psychoactive drugs and pilot performance: A comparison of nicotine, donepezil, and alcohol effects, Neuropsychopharmacology, July 2003, vol. 28, no. 7, pp. 1366–1373, www.nature.com/npp/journal/v28/n7/full/1300202a.html.
  • (vi) For cortactin, see: UBC researchers’ discovery could rejuvenate the brain, The University of British Columbia, Dec. 2008, www.med.ubc.ca/media/Neural_plasticity_article.htm.
  • (vii) For magnesium threonate, see I. Slutsky et al., Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium, Neuron, Jan. 28, 2010, and www.physorg.com/news183818175.html. Ordinary magnesium supplements (“milk of magnesia,” dolomite, etc.) may help as well.
  • (viii) For insulin-like growth factor 2, see D. Y. Chen, et al., A critical role for IGF-II in memory consolidation and enhancement, Nature, Jan. 2011, vol. 469, pp. 491–497.
  • (ix) For metformin, see Wang, et al. (2012), detailed above.
  • (x) For exercise, see (1) H. van Praag, et al., Running enhances neurogenesis, learning, and long-term potentiation in mice, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), 1999, vol. 96, no. 23, pp. 13427–13431; (2) P. S. Eriksson, et al., Neurogenesis in the adult human hippocampus, Nature Medicine, 1998, vol. 4, pp. 1313–1317; (3) www.bakadesuyo.com/2014/01/get-smarter; and (4) C. D. Wrann, et al., Exercise induces hippocampal BDNF through a PGC-1?/FNDC5 pathway, Cell Metabolism, 2013, vol. 18, issue 5, pp. 649–659.
  • (xi) For afternoon napping, see e.g., (1) A midday nap markedly boosts the brain’s learning capacity, www.physorg.com/news185948338.html. (2) E. J. Wamsley, et al., Dreaming of a learning task is associated with enhanced sleep-dependent memory consolidation, Current Biology, Apr. 22, 2010, vol. 20, issue 9, pp. 850–855, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2869395.
  • (xii) For NgR1 antagonist, see: (1) regarding myelination, J. K. Relton, J. Li, and B. Ji, Use of Nogo Receptor-1 (NGR1) antagonists for promoting oligodendrocyte survival, US patent application US2011123535, May 26, 2011, www.google.com/patents/EP2023735A2; (2) regarding synapses, F. Akbik, S. M. Bhagat, P. R. Patel, W. B. J. Cafferty, and S. M. Strittmatter, Anatomical plasticity of adult brain is titrated by Nogo Receptor 1, Neuron, vol. 77, pp. 859–866, 2013, dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2012.12.027.

“This is not electroshock therapy, which applies hundreds of times more electric current (usually 800 milliamps, as much as many lightbulbs, compared to the 1–2 milliamps typical of TES) …”:
800 mA: MECTA Corporation – electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) products, www.mectacorp.com/products.html.
1–2 mA: R. C. Kadosh, Using transcranial electrical stimulation to enhance cognitive functions in the typical and atypical brain, Translational Neuroscience, 2013, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1–14.

“Things have come a long way …”: Field reviewed in (1) S. Zaghi, M. Acar, B. Hultgren, P. S. Boggio, and F. Fregni, Noninvasive brain stimulation with low-intensity electrical currents: Putative mechanisms of action for direct and alternating current stimulation, Neuroscientist, June 2010, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 285–307, www.fisherwallace.com/uploads/Harvard_Medical_School_Research.pdf; (2) R. C. Kadosh, 2013; and (3) blog with updates at www.diytdcs.com.

“… Sylvanus Thompson’s classic electrical engineering textbook described connecting a battery to the forehead to cause a ‘wild rush of colour’ …”: Elementary Lessons on Electricity and Magnetism, Fourth Ed., ch. 3, lesson XIX, Macmillan and Co., 1883. An edition was reprinted in 2011.

“For example tDCS was shown in 2011 to induce insight in tricky problem-solving situations.” R. P. Chi and A. W. Snyder, Facilitate insight by non-invasive brain stimulation, PLoS ONE, 2011, vol. 6, no. 2, www.plosone.org.

“You can even build your own TES machine on the cheap from do-it-yourself plans.” www.instructables.com/id/Build-a-Human-Enhancement-Device-Basic-tDCS-Suppl/.

“Indeed, in September 2011 DBS finally made mice smarter.” S. Stone, C. Teixeira, L. DeVito, K. Zaslavsky, S. Josselyn, A. Lozano, and P. Frankland, Stimulation of entorhinal cortex promotes adult neurogenesis and facilitates spatial memory, The Journal of Neuroscience, Sept. 21, 2011, vol. 31, no. 38, pp. 13469–13484, www.jneurosci.org/content/31/38/13469.

“Luckily, progress in brain scan technology is improving exponentially.” R. Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, Penguin Books, 2005, pp. 159–160.

“Another method uses ultrasound …”: W. J. Tyler, Y. Tufail, M. Finsterwald, M. L. Tauchmann, E. J. Olson, and C. Majestic, Remote excitation of neuronal circuits using low-intensity, low-frequency ultrasound, PLoS One, Oct. 29, 2008, vol. 3, no. 10, dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003511.

“The nanomechanical effects of the ultrasonic sound waves …”: W. D. Jones, Sound waves for brain waves, IEEE Spectrum Online, Jan. 2009, spectrum.ieee.org/jan09/7097.

“Its connectivity to other parts of the brain explains 10% of the variation in intelligence in humans.” M. W. Cole, et al., Global connectivity of prefrontal cortex predicts cognitive control and intelligence, The Journal of Neuroscience, June 27, 2012, vol. 32, no. 26, pp. 8988–8999, www.jneurosci.org/content/32/26/8988.

“… learn to change them as desired …”: C. Chase and G. Yonas, Cognitive enhancement using feedback, US Patent Application 20150297108, Oct., 2015,www.freepatentsonline.com/y2015/0297108.html. For some background see B. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, Penguin Books, 2014.

“Some evidence suggests that this can ‘enhance attention, increase overall intelligence, relieve short-term stress, and improve behavior.’” T. L. Huang and C. Charyton, A comprehensive review of the psychological effects of brainwave entrainment, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 2008, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 38–50.

“… roughly $15,000 per IQ point …”: S. D. Grosse, et al., Economic gains resulting from the reduction in children’s exposure to lead in the United States, Environmental Health Perspectives, June 2002, vol. 110, no. 6, pp. 563–569 (see Table 2), www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1240871/.

“Iodine deficiency … can significantly lower the IQ of whole populations”: The scope of the problem, Micronutrient Initiative, micronutrient.org/what-we-do/by-micronutrient/iodine/. See also N. D. Kristof, Raising the world’s IQ, The New York Times, Dec. 4, 2008, New York edition p. A43, www.nytimes.com/2008/12/04/opinion/04kristof.html.

“However, taking choline …”: Sandberg and Bostrom (2006), pp. 207, 223, detailed above.

“… take cod liver oil …”: I. B. Helland, et al., Effect of supplementing pregnant and lactating mothers with n-3 very-long-chain fatty acids on children’s IQ and body mass index at 7 years of age, Pediatrics, Aug. 2008, vol. 122, no. 2, pp. e472–e479, pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/122/2/e472.

“Sometimes called the ‘critical mass’ effect, anyone who has been in such a group can vouch for its effectiveness.” E.g. A. W. Woolley, C. F. Chabris, A. Pentland, N. M. Hashmi, and T. W. Malone, Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups, Science, 2010, vol. 330, no. 6004, pp. 686–688, www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6004/686.



Chapter Three: Keys and Screens Today, Mind Reading Tomorrow


“A brain wave reading device that enables paralyzed individuals to switch lights and appliances on and off without moving at all was reported ready for marketing as early as 1997.” Remote-control system uses brain waves, Associated Press, Dec. 25, 1997, https://web.archive.org/web/20081202131007/http://www.cnn.com/TECH/9712/25/remote.control.ap/.

“This device, the MCTOS Brain Switch, was still listed for sale as of 2013.” E.g. Synapse Adaptive, www.synapseadaptive.com/switches/brain%20switch.htm.

“In 2008 a team of researchers at Keio University,” June 2, 2008, web.archive.org/web/20100727084714/http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iKMcgJgp9nGYbaTofk_jpi56JpeA.

“By 2013, non-invasive brain wave detection enabled people to control quadrotor air vehicles by imagining hand motions.” University of Minnesota researchers control flying robot with only the mind, UMNews, 2013, www1.umn.edu/news/news-releases/2013/UR_CONTENT_445216.html.

“For the number keys, this principle was demonstrated in 2009 …” E. Eger, V. Michel, B. Thirion, A. Amadon, S. Dehaene, and A. Kleinschmidt, Deciphering cortical number coding from human brain activity patterns, Current Biology, 2009, vol. 19, issue 19, pp. 1608–1615, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982209016236.

“highly significant accuracies”: T. M. Mitchell, S. V. Shinkareva, A. Carlson, K. Chang, V. L. Malave, R. A. Mason, M. A. Just, Predicting human brain activity associated with the meanings of nouns, Science, May 30, 2008, vol. 320.

“… capability was also demonstrated with viewed pictures rather than imagined words …”: Mind reading machine knows what the eye can see, New Scientist, Mar. 2008, www.newscientist.com/article/dn13415-mindreading-machine-knows-what-the-eye-can-see.html.

“There is no natural barrier from what we can see”: Reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP), July 7, 2008, afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jACuLY9nHXK-Mpf5rMf2ZP5djAiw.

“For example, ancient catapults used… human hair!” J. G. Landels, Engineering in the Ancient World, University of California Press, 1978.

“Soldiers would need to think in ‘clear, formulaic ways … similar to how they are already trained to talk.’” L. Zyga, US Army invests in ‘thought helmet’ technology for voiceless communication, PhysOrg.com, Sept. 22, 2008, www.physorg.com/news141314439.html.

“… by 2010, an off-the-shelf brain wave reader was demonstrated as part of a cellphone device …”: K. Grifantini, Mobile phone mind control, Technology Review Editors’ Blog, Mar. 31, 2010, http://www.technologyreview.com/view/418258/mobile-phone-mind-control.

“… a technique for reading the mind and outputting a fuzzy movie …”: New Scientist, Oct. 28, 2009, issue 2732, www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427323.500-brain-scanners-can-tell-what-youre-thinking-about.html.

“… another project read interpretations of Beethoven from peoples’ brains and played the results …”: Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, Feb. 22–24, 2013, cmr.soc.plymouth.ac.uk/pacmf2013.pdf.

“… Wright’s, Goddard’s, and hybrid laws (applying to many technologies).” B. Nagy, J. D. Farmer, Q. M. Bui, and J. E. Trancik, Statistical basis for predicting technological progress, PLOS ONE, 2013, vol. 8, issue 2, journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0052669. Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival, Feb. 22–24, 2013, cmr.soc.plymouth.ac.uk/pacmf2013.pdf.

“… technology for safe brain scans was measured as doubling in power every six years in spatial resolution, and doubling every one and a half years in time resolution.” Derived directly from figures on pp. 159–160 of R. Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near, Penguin Books, 2005.



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