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Anti-aging Research > Smart Drugs
Supplements that may enhance mental performance
News & Research:
Cognitive enhancing drugs can improve chess play, scientists show - Science
Daily, 3/6/17 - "a new double-blind randomised
controlled trial by scientists from German and Swedish universities has shown
that the cognitive enhancing drugs, modafinil, methylphenidate, and caffeine can
improve chess play. Previous research had shown that the drugs could improve
cognitive performance when a subject was tired or was performing below his or
her optimal performance, but this is the first work to show improvement of
cognitive performance even if the subject is performing at a very high level ...
all three substances tested caused the players to increase the time needed to
decide on a move, meaning that more games were lost as the players ran out of
time. However, when the analysis was corrected to take out games lost on time,
the team found that both modafinil and methylphenidate significantly increased
the players' scores, whereas caffeine showed a more modest, but not
statistically significant improvement ... We were surprised to see that players
on the drugs played more slowly than normal, indicating that their thought
processes seemed to be deeper ... If we correct for the slowest players, then
the effect would be the equivalent of moving a player from say, number 5000 in
the world ranking, to number 3500 in the world ranking. In a single game, the
effect is the equivalent of having the white pieces, every time, which give
around a 5% better chance of winning"
Omega-3, omega-6 supplement improves reading for children - Science Daily,
9/14/16 - "study included 154 schoolchildren from
western Sweden in grade 3, between nine and ten years old. The children took a
computer-based test (known as the Logos test) that measured their reading skills
in a variety of ways, including reading speed, ability to read nonsense words
and vocabulary ... The children were randomly assigned to receive either
capsules with omega-3 and omega-6, or identical capsules that contained a
placebo (palm oil) for 3 months ... After three months, all children received
real omega-3/6 capsules for the final three months of the study ... Even after
three months, we could see that the children's reading skills improved with the
addition of fatty acids, compared with those who received the placebo" -
Note: Most American's get about 20 time the omega-6 they need. See
fish oil supplements at Amazon.com.
Risk-takers are smarter, according to a new study - Science Daily, 11/30/15
- "The point here is that if you're going to take risks,
you have to have the required skills. And these have to be learned. Sadly, many
fail during this learning process -- with tragic consequences. So this is why
we're wording our findings with a Darwinian slant -- it takes brains to take
intelligence 'runs in families,' environment less important - Science Daily,
7/11/14 - "The study found that some, but not all,
cognitive, or mental, abilities, in chimpanzees depend significantly on the
genes they inherit"
supplementation improves tactical performance but not cognitive function in
combat soldiers - J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 Apr 10;11(1):15 -
soldiers (20.1 +/- 0.9 years) from an elite combat unit were randomly assigned
to either a beta-alanine (BA) or placebo (PL) group. Soldiers were involved in
advanced military training, including combat skill development, navigational
training, self-defense/hand-to-hand combat and conditioning. All participants
performed a 4-km run, 5-countermovement jumps using a linear position
transducer, 120-m sprint, a 10-shot shooting protocol with assault rifle,
including overcoming a misfire, and a 2-min serial subtraction test to assess
cognitive function before (Pre) and after (Post) 28 days of supplementation ...
The training routine resulted in significant increases in 4-km run time for both
groups, but no between group differences were seen (p = 0.597). Peak jump power
at Post was greater for BA than PL (p = 0.034), while mean jump power for BA at
Post was 10.2% greater (p = 0.139) than PL. BA had a significantly greater (p =
0.012) number of shots on target at Post (8.2 +/- 1.0) than PL (6.5 +/- 2.1),
and their target engagement speed at Post was also significantly faster" - See beta-alanine at Amazon.com.
tea extract boosts your brain power, especially the working memory, new research
shows - Science Daily, 4/7/14 - "green tea extract
increases the brain's effective connectivity, meaning the causal influence that
one brain area exerts over another. This effect on connectivity also led to
improvement in actual cognitive performance: Subjects tested significantly
better for working memory tasks after the admission of green tea extract ...
healthy male volunteers received a soft drink containing several grams of green
tea extract before they solved working memory tasks. The scientists then
analyzed how this affected the brain activity of the men using magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI showed increased connectivity between the
parietal and the frontal cortex of the brain. These neuronal findings correlated
positively with improvement in task performance of the participants" -
green tea extract at Amazon.com.
spinach or eggs for faster reflexes: Tyrosine helps you stop faster -
Science Daily, 2/11/14 - "The participants had two
sessions in the test lab. On one occasion they were given orange to drink that
contained tyrosine, and on the other occasion the orange juice contained a
placebo. The tests showed that the candidates performed better on the stopping
task if they had drunk the juice with tyrosine ... Tyrosine food supplements and
tyrosine-rich food are a healthy and inexpensive way of improving our
intellectual capabilities. This makes them preferable to Ritalin and Modafinil,
products that students often reach for to improve their academic performance.
Tyrosine is safe and doesn't need a doctor's prescription" - See
n-acetyl tyrosine at Amazon.com.
Low Omega-3 in Kids Linked
to Behavior, Cognitive Deficits - Medscape, 7/23/13 -
"This study formed the screening stage of a previously
published randomized controlled intervention study that included 362 healthy
children aged 7 to 9 years from primary schools in Oxfordshire, a large county
in the UK, who had low reading scores. The DOLAB study reported that
supplementation with 600 mg DHA daily for 16 weeks improved reading and behavior
in children with the lowest 20% of reading scores ... The study showed that
reading scores were significantly and positively associated with the omega-3
fatty acids DHA (P < .003), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA; P < .04),
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; P < .005), and the omega-3 index (EPA+DHA; P < .04).
Total omega-6 fatty acids also showed a positive correlation with reading ...
Results were similar for working memory. Scores for Recall of Digits Forward
were significantly and positively associated with DHA (P < .003), DPA (P < .04),
EPA (P < .005), the omega-3 index (P < .001), and total omega-3 (P < .004)"
Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com
Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
but Not Vitamin B-12 Concentrations Are Positively Associated with Cognitive
Test Scores in Children Aged 6-16 Years - J Nutr. 2013 Feb 6 -
"Serum folate and vitamin B-12 concentrations were
measured, along with performance, on the Wide Range Achievement Test-Revised and
the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised ... serum concentrations of
folate were associated with higher reading and block design scores after
adjusting for various covariates. For example, compared with the lowest quartile
of folate, children in the highest quartile scored 3.28 points or 0.19 SD units
higher on the reading test (P < 0.05). Vitamin B-12 was not associated with any
of the test scores. In the largest study to date, higher folate concentrations
were associated with better reading and block design scores" - See
folic acid products at Amazon.com.
Scientists Debunk the IQ Myth: Notion of Measuring One's Intelligence Quotient
by Singular, Standardized Test Is Highly Misleading - Science Daily,
Body iron is
associated with cognitive executive planning function in college women - Br
J Nutr. 2012 Jun 7:1-8 - "The aim of the present study
was to examine the relationship between body Fe, in the absence of Fe-deficiency
anaemia, and neuropsychological function in young college women. Healthy,
non-anaemic undergraduate women (n 42) provided a blood sample and completed a
standardised cognitive test battery consisting of one manual (Tower of London
(TOL), a measure of central executive function) and five computerised (Bakan
vigilance task, mental rotation, simple reaction time, immediate word recall and
two-finger tapping) tasks. Women's body Fe ranged from - 4.2 to 8.1 mg/kg.
General linear model ANOVA revealed a significant effect of body Fe on TOL
planning time (P = 0.002). Spearman's correlation coefficients showed a
significant inverse relationship between body Fe and TOL planning time for move
categories 4 (r - 0.39, P = 0.01) and 5 (r - 0.47, P = 0.002). Performance on
the computerised cognitive tasks was not affected by body Fe level. These
findings suggest that Fe status in the absence of anaemia is positively
associated with central executive function in otherwise healthy college women"
- See iron supplements at Amazon.com.
physical education in schools leads to better grades, study suggests -
Science Daily, 5/23/12 - "96 percent of the intervention
group compared to 89 percent in the control group achieved the goals of
compulsory school and were eligible to go on to upper-secondary school. It is
primarily the boys' achievements -- with 96 percent vs. 83 percent -- that lies
behind this outcome. Moreover, the boys in the intervention group had
significantly higher grades in Swedish, English, Mathematics, and PE and health
than the boys in the control group ... In grade 9, 93 percent of the students in
the intervention group evinced good motor skills compared to 53 percent in the
control group ... The study is unique. There are no previous findings that
statistically show the effects and impact of an intervention over so many years.
The reliability of the findings is further enhanced by the homogenity in the
groups under investigation: the children are the same age, go to the same
school, and have parents with comparable education, income, and interest in
aerobic capacity promotes learning - Science Daily, 2/13/12 -
"It was found that rats with intrinsically high aerobic
capacity clearly outperformed those with intrinsically low aerobic capacity. It
must be emphasized that the animals were not given any physical exercise before
the learning test. Thus, the results suggest that it is the aerobic capacity and
not physical activity alone that is related to flexible cognition"
Administration of Cardanol (Ginkgol) Extracted from Ginkgo biloba Leaves and
Cashew Nutshell Liquid Improves Working Memory-Related Learning in Rats -
Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(1):127-9 - "These findings
suggest that cardanol is one of the components in Ginkgo biloba leaves that
improves cognitive learning ability" - See
Ginkgo biloba at Amazon.com.
performance may be linked to physical activity - Science Daily, 1/2/12 -
"According to the best-evidence synthesis, we found
strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity
and academic performance. The findings of one high-quality intervention study
and one high-quality observational study suggest that being more physically
active is positively related to improved academic performance in children ...
exercise may help cognition by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain,
increasing levels of norepinephrine and endorphins to decrease stress and
improve mood, and increasing growth factors that help create new nerve cells and
support synaptic plasticity"
IQ isn't fixed at birth, can increase - USATODAY.com, 12/27/11 -
"the average increased by 0.6 points, which correlated
with an increase in IQ of 3.7 points for an addition year of schooling"
mental performance with fish oil? - Science Daily, 10/21/11 -
"overall, taking either of two different types of fish
oil supplement for three months had no consistent impact on mental function in
18 -- 35-year-olds, however they did find evidence of reduced mental fatigue and
faster reaction times. Contrary to popular belief, these results suggest that
taking omega-3 or fish oil supplements may not have an immediate or measureable
impact on mental performance in healthy young adults, possibly due to the fact
that this population is already performing at its mental peak or that higher
doses or longer than 12 weeks supplementation are required ... Interestingly, in
the second of these studies it was found that taking DHA-rich fish oil over the
same time period did increase blood flow to active areas of the brain during
performance of similar mental tasks. The researchers claim these findings could
have implications for mental function later on in life, as evidence suggests
regularly eating oily fish or taking omega-3 supplements may prevent cognitive
decline and dementia, and increased blood flow to the brain may be a mechanism
by which this occurs" - See
Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com
Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
schoolchildren that sleep less than 9 hours do not perform as well academically,
study suggests - Science Daily, 9/13/11 - "sleeping
less than nine hours, going to bed late and no bedtime routine generally affects
children's academic skills ... the lacking hours of sleep distorts children's
performance in linguistic knowledge, grammar and spelling rules, and key aspects
in the organisation and comprehension of texts, to name a few examples. They are
basic skills, meaning that if the pupil, due to a lack of sleep, develops
problems in this area, it could have a repercussion on all subjects"
has numerous beneficial effects on brain health and cognition, review suggests
- Science Daily, 7/25/11 - "In a new review article
highlighting the results of more than a hundred recent human and animal studies
on this topic, Michelle W. Voss, of the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues show that both aerobic exercise and
strength training play a vital role in maintaining brain and cognitive health
throughout life ... The review suggests that aerobic exercise is important for
getting a head start during childhood on cognitive abilities that are important
throughout life. For example, physical inactivity is associated with poorer
academic performance and results on standard neuropsychological tests, while
exercise programs appear to improve memory, attention, and decision-making.
These effects also extend to young and elderly adults, with solid evidence for
aerobic training benefiting executive functions, including multi-tasking,
planning, and inhibition, and increasing the volume of brain structures
important for memory"
Folate Intake Linked to Better Grades in Swedish Teens - Medscape, 7/15/11 -
"Sweden is a country that does not allow foods to be
fortified ... We have a poor intake of folate compared to people in the US, our
intake is below what is recommended daily. We do not achieve the recommended
daily intake in Sweden ... Blood samples were obtained and assayed for total
homocysteine, a biomarker for folate intake, and mutations in the methylene
tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, which is known to raise levels of
homocysteine ... teens in the lowest tertile of dietary folate intake had the
poorest academic performance"
Herb Extract (Avena sativa) Changes EEG Spectral Frequencies in Healthy Subjects
- J Altern Complement Med. 2011 May 12 - "These changes
suggest that oat herb extract might be effective in healthy subjects, resulting
in a positive impact on cognitive performance" - See
sativa products at iHerb.
or too little sleep may accelerate cognitive aging, study shows - Science
Daily, 5/1/11 - "women and men who begin sleeping more
or less than 6 to 8 hours per night are subject to an accelerated cognitive
decline that is equivalent to four to seven years of aging ... The researchers
also found that, in women, sleep duration of 7 hours of sleep per night was
associated with the highest score for every cognitive measure, followed closely
by 6 hours of nightly sleep. Among men, cognitive function was similar for those
who reported sleeping 6, 7 or 8 hours; only short and long sleep durations of
less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours appeared to be associated with lower
Giftedness linked to prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone -
Science Daily, 3/12/11 - "There seems to be some
evidence that excessive prenatal exposure to testosterone facilitates increased
connections in the brain, especially in the right prefrontal cortex ... That's
why we see some intellectually gifted people with distinct personality
characteristics that you don't see in the normal population ... Based on their
observations, the researchers made the hypothesis that this hormonal "glitch" in
the in-utero neurobiological development means that gifted children are born
with an affinity for certain areas such as the arts, math or science"
Neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of beneficial effects of prenatal
omega-3 fatty acid intake on memory function at school age - Am J Clin Nutr.
2011 Mar 9 - "The beneficial effects of prenatal and
early postnatal intakes of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on
cognitive development during infancy are well recognized. However, few studies
have examined the extent to which these benefits continue to be evident in
childhood ... Repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed that children with
higher cord plasma concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is an
important n-3 PUFA, had a shorter FN400 latency and a larger LPC amplitude; and
higher plasma DHA concentrations at the time of testing were associated with
increased FN400 amplitude. Cord DHA-related effects were observed regardless of
seafood-contaminant amounts. Multiple regression analyses also showed positive
associations between cord DHA concentrations and performance on neurobehavioral
assessments of memory ... To our knowledge, this study provides the first
neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of long-term beneficial effects of
n-3 PUFA intake in utero on memory function in school-age children" - See
Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com
Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
helps overweight children think better, do better in math - Science Daily,
2/10/11 - "Regular exercise improves the ability of
overweight, previously inactive children to think, plan and even do math ...
MRIs showed those who exercised experienced increased brain activity in the
prefrontal cortex -- an area associated with complex thinking, decision making
and correct social behavior -- and decreased activity in an area of the brain
that sits behind it. The shift forward appears consistent with more rapidly
developing cognitive skills ... And the more they exercised, the better the
result. Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising
40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those
exercising 20 minutes daily ... Animal studies have shown that aerobic activity
increases growth factors so the brain gets more blood vessels, more neurons and
more connections between neurons. Studies in older adults have shown exercise
benefits the brain and Davis's study extends the science to children and their
ability to learn in school"
Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? - NYTimes.com, 9/15/10 -
"among more than a million 18-year-old boys who joined
the army, better fitness was correlated with higher I.Q.’s, even among identical
twins. The fitter the twin, the higher his I.Q. The fittest of them were also
more likely to go on to lucrative careers than the least fit, rendering them
less likely, you would hope, to live in their parents’ basements. No correlation
was found between muscular strength and I.Q. scores. There’s no evidence that
exercise leads to a higher I.Q., but the researchers suspect that aerobic
exercise, not strength training, produces specific growth factors and proteins
that stimulate the brain"
Inflammation is associated with lower intelligence and premature death -
Science Daily, 9/6/10 - "with low-grade inflammation
performed more poorly on standardised intelligence tests, even after excluding
those with signs of current illness. Inflammation also predicted an increased
risk of premature death ... This suggests that even low levels of inflammation
can have detrimental consequences for health and brain function ... it is the
largest study to date to show that low-grade inflammation in young adulthood is
associated with intelligence and mortality"
aerobic exercise is good for the brain - Science Daily, 4/26/10 -
"Regular exercise speeds learning and improves blood
flow to the brain ... monkeys who exercised regularly at an intensity that would
improve fitness in middle-aged people learned to do tests of cognitive function
faster and had greater blood volume in the brain's motor cortex than their
sedentary counterparts ... This suggests people who exercise are getting similar
benefits ... When the researchers examined tissue samples from the brain's motor
cortex, they found that mature monkeys that ran had greater vascular volume than
middle-aged runners or sedentary animals. But those blood flow changes reversed
in monkeys that were sedentary after exercising for five months"
boosts learning by increasing brain plasticity - Science Daily, 3/7/10 -
"Ritalin boosts both of these cognitive abilities by
increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine deep inside the brain.
Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers neurons use to communicate with
each other. They release the molecule, which then docks onto receptors of other
neurons. The research demonstrated that one type of dopamine receptor aids the
ability to focus, and another type improves the learning itself"
DHA brain benefits may extend to middle age - Nutra USA, 3/1/10 -
"Higher DHA was related to better performance on tests
of nonverbal reasoning and mental flexibility, working memory, and vocabulary
... increasing levels of DHA were associated with improved mental function in a
“generally linear" - [Abstract]
Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
Phospholipid Docosahexaenonic Acid Is Associated with Cognitive Functioning
during Middle Adulthood - J Nutr. 2010 Feb 24 -
"higher DHA (mol %) was related to better performance on tests of nonverbal
reasoning and mental flexibility, working memory, and vocabulary (P </= 0.05).
These associations were generally linear. Associations between DHA and nonverbal
reasoning and working memory persisted with additional adjustment for
participant education and vocabulary scores ... Among the 3 key (n-3) PUFA, only
DHA is associated with major aspects of cognitive performance in nonpatient
adults <55 y old. These findings suggest that DHA is related to brain health
throughout the lifespan and may have implications for clinical trials of
neuropsychiatric disorders" - See
Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
Can a Mid-Day Nap Make You Smarter? - WebMD, 2/22/10 -
"People in the group which didn't nap had a slight
reduction of about 10% in their learning capacity during the day ...
''whereas the people who had a nap in between the first time they tried to
learn relative to the second time they tried to learn actually improved
their ability to learn by 10% ... The total time the participants slept
during the 90-minute window didn't matter much in their later performance,
Walker found. But the greater the amount of stage 2 non-REM sleep, a lighter
form of non-dreaming sleep, the better their performance"
Magnesium May Improve Memory - WebMD, 1/27/10 -
"increasing brain magnesium using a newly developed compound,
magnesium-L-threonate (MgT), improves learning abilities, working memory,
and short- and-long-term memory in rats. The magnesium also helped older
rats perform better on a battery of learning tests ... The researchers cite
that only 32% of Americans get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium"
Jarrow Formulas, Magnesium Optimizer Citrate at Amazon.com.
Coffee Break Boosts Memory - WebMD, 1/27/10 -
"Taking a coffee break after class can actually help you retain that
information you just learned"
Running Boosts Brainpower - WebMD, 1/19/10 -
"Running may do more than improve your cardiovascular fitness and overall
physique. It might actually make you smarter ... Scientists reporting in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences say that running has a
profound impact on the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for
learning and memory"
Young adults who exercise get higher IQ Scores - Science Daily, 12/2/09
- "The study shows a clear link between good
physical fitness and better results for the IQ test. The strongest links are
for logical thinking and verbal comprehension ... Being fit means that you
also have good heart and lung capacity and that your brain gets plenty of
oxygen ... This may be one of the reasons why we can see a clear link with
fitness, but not with muscular strength. We are also seeing that there are
growth factors that are important"
Cardiovascular Fitness May Sharpen Mind - WebMD, 11/30/09 -
"A large new study links cardiovascular fitness in
early adulthood to increased intelligence, better performance on cognitive
tests, and higher educational achievement later in life ... When researchers
looked at twins, they found that environmental factors rather than genetics
appeared to play the largest role in these associations. Non-shared
environmental influences accounted for 80% or more of differences in
academic achievement, whereas genetics accounted for less than 15% of these
Teenage Boys Who Eat Fish At Least Once A Week Achieve Higher Intelligence
Scores - Science Daily, 3/9/09 - "Eating fish
once a week was enough to increase combined, verbal and visuospatial
intelligence scores by an average of six per cent, while eating fish more
than once a week increased them by just under 11 per cent"
Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com
Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
Fish, Get Smarter? - WebMD, 11/8/07 - "Most
participants ate fish, and the more fish they ate, the better their test
scores were -- up to a point ... Test scores leveled off for people who ate
more than about 2.5 to 2.8 daily ounces of fish" - Note: The article
includes a total of three studies. - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com.
- Inadequate Iodine
Intake Linked to Low Intelligence Quotient - Medscape, 8/9/04 -
"This study demonstrates that the IQ of
schoolchildren in a developed country can be influenced by iodine intake"
- Can a Pill
Make You Smarter? - WebMD, 7/13/04
- What Creates
Smarts? - WebMD, 1/17/02
Study Finds "Smart Drug" Doesn't Work In Children With Down Syndrome -
Intelihealth, 4/12/01 -
"does not boost children's intellectual ability ...
the drug, called piracetam, had side effects such as aggression,
irritability and poor sleep in some of the youngsters"
- Attention Deficit
Discovery - WebMD, 11/6/00 -
""When we gave these animals [Prozac], which affects
the serotonin system, it had a dramatic effect on learning and memory,
improving performance fourfold." Wetsel says."
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