Episode 18

In this week’s podcast, Jesse changes things up a bit by conducting a nootropic dosing experiment on an unnamed volunteer with the widely known nootropic Piracetam.  This marks the second time someone has volunteered to be a human guinea-pig on the podcast –  the first one featuring Modafinil in Podcast #3. Jesse and this new Test Subject (TS) give live updates over the course of several hours of increasingly high levels of Piracetam in TS’s bloodstream, noting  changes in his mental performance and (of course) any side-effects.

Piracetam and its Benefits

Piracetam can be considered the original nootropic, as the doctor who originally synthesized it, Dr. Cornelius E. Giurgea, actually coined the term nootropic to describe Piracetam and other substances offering cognition-enhancing benefits without measurable downsides.  Piracetam was synthesized at a Belgian company named UCB for the first time in 1964, and was sold under the name “Nootropil.”  It is still widely sold across Europe and in much of Asia.

Many studies have been conducted regarding the effects of Piracetam, but according to the British Academy of Medical Sciences, several of these have been methodologically flawed. One study showed that piracetam had a therapeutic effect in older patients suffering from cognitive decline. Most other studies have focused on its effects for sufferers of several mental disorders, and at least one study has shown it to be cognitively beneficial even to young people with healthy, normal brains.

Some of Piracetam’s benefits that have been noted through testing on human and animal subjects include:

  • Improved memory
  • Reversing the effects of aging in mice
  • Treating  cognitive impairment related to alcohol consumption
  • Useful for long-term treatment of blood clotting, coagulation, and vasospastic disorders
  • Lowering depression and anxiety

Typically effective medicinal dosage amounts range between 4.8 to 9.6 grams, although many non-prescription users take two 800mg capsules per day toward improving overall cognition. Piracetam has not been found to have any serious negative side-effects, although some do report headaches due to choline levels dropping from long-term use.

Effects Experienced by Test Subject #2

Initially our test subject (TS) ingests 12 800mg pills, totaling a dose of 9.6 grams. (This amount has been cited as being experimentally safe.) At his first update, one hour after taking the pills, TS notes that he has felt no subjective effects whatsoever. “We are on the cutting edge here at Smart Drug Smarts – but I don’t think the cutting edge is very sharp because I really don’t feel much at all.”

TS then decides to swallow 8 additional grams of Piracetam to see if the extra dosage might make a difference. The final update is reported 3 hours into the experiment, when disappointingly (alas), TS still does not feel any sort of effects.  (TS noted he might have felt a little flushed 30 minutes after taking the second batch of pills, but couldn’t confidently finger the Piracetam as the culprit.)

TS mentions that he read up online that caffeine might have a synergistic effect when taken with Piracetam, so he gulps down a cup of tea in an attempt to “flick the switch.” No luck.  In the last update, concluding the experiment, TS still hasn’t felt any mind-altering effects, although he does claim to have gotten quite a bit of work done during the day.  There remains the possibility that TS is resistant to Piracetam, as is not terribly uncommon.  (Up to 20% of people are found to be unaffected by members of the Racetam family of chemicals.)

This Week In Neuroscience: BigBrain – A New Tool for Neuroscience Research

Researchers from Toronto have created a 3D digital reconstruction of a complete human brain, by taking the brain of a deceased 65-year-old woman and cutting it into 74,000 slices. These 20-micrometer-thick sections are then treated and digitized at very high resolutions, then recombined to create an ultra-high-resolution 3D model.

It took the researchers about 1000 hours to collect all the data, but now they have essentially an online map of the brain, which some are calling “Google Earth for the Brain,” as it allows scientists to zoom into any part of the brain in an arbitrary, real-time, user-driven way. This sort of brain atlas provides extremely fine detail, down to the cellular level – and this new tool is anticipated to potentially revolutionize researchers’ ability to understand inner brain structures.

Read the original article here.

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Written by Jesse Lawler
Jesse Lawler is a technologist, health nut, entrepreneur, and "one whose power switch defaults to On."  He created Smart Drug Smarts to learn how to make his brain do even more, and is greatly pleased to now see his little baby Frankenstein toddling around and helping others.  Jesse tweets about personal optimization, tech, and other stuff he finds interesting at @Lawlerpalooza.
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