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Harvard Professor with A Smart Pill that Helps You Learn

Stashed in: Learn!, Brain, Harvard, Future, Innovation

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This is utterly awesome:

Hensch is studying a drug which might allow adults to learn perfect pitch by re-creating this critical period in brain development. Hensch says the drug, valprioc acid, allows the brain to absorb new information as easily as it did before age 7.

"It's a mood-stabilizing drug, but we found that it also restores the plasticity of the brain to a juvenile state," Hensch tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer.

This is a pretty powerful mood stabilizing drug that has been around for quite awhile (Depakote, one form, has been around since 1983).  I would be leery to take a medication like this, unless it was absolutely necessary,  but maybe down the road with more research to prove it's safeness, or maybe it will help them discover a new drug for increased learning capability.  I like the language learning enhancement part, would love to have an easier time with that ;)

"Valproic acid (VPA, Valproate), an acidic chemical compound, has found clinical use as an anticonvulsant and mood-stabilizing drug, primarily in the treatment of epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and, less commonly, major depression."

"Risk of autism Maternal valproate use during pregnancy has been associated with a significantly higher risk of autism in the offspring.[29] Exposure of the human embryo to valproic acid is associated with risk of autism, and it is possible to duplicate features characteristic of autism by exposing rat embryos to valproic acid at the time of neural tube closure.[30] Valproate exposure on embryonic day 11.5 led to significant local recurrent connectivity in the juvenile rat neocortex, consistent with the underconnectivity theory of autism.[31]

Risk of low IQ A 2009 study found that the 3 year old children of pregnant women taking valproate had an IQ nine points lower than that of a well-matched control group. However, further research in older children and adults is needed."

These studies do definitely show Valproic Acid is having profound effects on the brain, as well as the current prescribed uses, we just need to better understand it, and be able to control it's effect on the brain, or it could have some really bad results.

I do think this is a big challenge we need to figure out:  how to increase our ability to learn faster, and store more information, we need to improve this to evolve to the next level.  We have so much information now in our world, and can only learn and store a small percent of it.  We can no longer be Renaissance men and women.

Well, I guess it may all be a moot point once the singularity arrives and we are all permanently connected to massive, multi-exabyte solid state drives that reside in the cloud and can store unlimited information for us?! What a thought...

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