Saturday, July 15, 2017

This Week in Neuroscience: The Next Step Beyond the Human Genome Project Making Loud Noises

The $3.75 billion Human Genome Project was completed under schedule and under budget — and is now roundly considered one of the most successful research tasks ever undertaken in the history of humanity. The heir apparent to HGP is the Brain Activity Mapping project (affectionately called BAM!), which has as its objective the full mapping of neuron-level activity of a living human brain in real time. BAM’s success would give scientists a virtually unlimited data set with which to learn how awareness, cognition, and even consciousness arise from the brain’s cellular and molecular substrates.

The first of many major questions now is whether BAM will get the government funding it needs to launch. Even then, the best approach to obtaining this information with ethically acceptable and minimally invasive methods has not been agreed upon. As with any groundbreaking endeavor – and multibillion dollar use of public funds – there are naysayers. The particularly dry-humored Partha Mitra quipped, citing the inherent difficulties of accessing deeper levels of brain tissue within living humans: “Everyone should be reminded that we have skulls.” Touché, Partha, touché.

Read the full article here. Or this article, here.

 What Do We Know About These Drugs?

The term nootropics was coined by Dr. Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist and chemist who discovered Piracetam and developed the five categories that define a nootropic substance. Those categories include Learning Enhancement, Facilitation of Inter-Hemispherical Brain Flow, Resistance of Physical and Chemical Injuries, an Increase in the Efficacy of the Cortical and Sub-Cortical Mechanisms, and an Absence of Negative Effects. Roughly translated into English, the Greek word nootropic means “towards the mind” – but its Greek meaning extends beyond this definition to imply a level of deep understanding, beyond simple awareness.

The discovery of the Racetam family of drugs was a lucky accident, as Racetams were not intended as mental enhancers but rather as a cure against motion sickness. Serendipitous discoveries like this are common in pharmacology; another popular drug discovered in this unintentional manner is Viagra. Originally designed as blood pressure medication, it wasn’t very effective for this purpose… but the older male patients given these pills as a test study were reluctant to return them to the testing clinics… for reasons you may well be able to guess.

Optimizing Your Racetam Regimen

Though any of the nootropic Racetams can be effective on their own, Mr. Micans discusses a few ways to synergize your Racetam regimen to get the biggest bang for your pharmaceutical buck. Firstly, you’ll want to start out with a well-balanced lifestyle including exercise and a healthy diet… Two pieces of advice that almost every interviewee in the history of Smart Drug Smarts seems to agree wholeheartedly agree on. To build on this foundation, adding Deprenyl can help with dopamine release and support Piracetam’s effects. Centrophenoxine is another smart drug that can be taken with Piracetam to increase your recall speed – making you sharper, more focused, and more instantaneous in your fact-recall abilities.

An additional hormone called Vasopressin can be taken 15-20 minutes before a particular event to have a more detailed and keen memory of the event itself when recalling it later. Pretty cool, huh? This is because Vasopressin aids in the physical laying down of memories in the brain’s Hippocampus.