DailyDirt: Boosting Brainpower

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The plot of the classic science fiction short story, Flowers for Algernon has been adapted into a wide range of other stories, TV shows and movies. Upgrading a person's intelligence through some unnatural means provides a temporary fix -- resulting in an addiction to intelligence augmentation (or other complications). In reality, some colleges are starting to deal with students abusing drugs meant to treat ADHD but which also seem to increase mental focus in general. However, other methods that don't use prescription medication to boost brainpower might be harder to regulate. Here are just a few links on the subject of boosting brainpower. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:04pm

    22% shocking smart bum fudge.

     

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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:16pm

    The "you only use 10% of your brain" thing is badly misunderstood. Closer to the truth is, "you only are using 10% of your brain at any given moment." But the whole brain gets used on a pretty regular basis, because you do all sorts of different things with it.

    It's like saying that, because I'm sitting at a desk typing this post right now, that I don't use my feet and therefore they're obviously useless (or do something mysteeeeeeerious that we don't know about.)

     

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    Raging Alcoholic, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:25pm

    37% made up and 100% slanted

    I have never encountered a statistical report I was not skeptical of.
    Too bad no one seems to want to rely on the truth to support their cause. They lie and then their credibility is gone.

    Their should be a duty of candor for all government organizations that use statistics. And there should be consequences, like employment termination, for whoever authorizes the misleading reports.

     

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    Jake, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:30pm

    Re:

    I have a very vague draft for a short story about a brilliant but very unhinged scientist who tries to find a way to turn 100% of his brain cells on 100% of the time, only to find out that doing this is a bit like 'overclocking' a PC by messing around with the front-side bus speed...

     

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    Kal Zekdor (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    Re:

    Technically, that's what the Mythbusters' episode referenced in that article was testing. They found that on average, ~35% of your brain is in use at any particular point in time. Unfortunately, they tested the myth as you stated it, not as how it is commonly interpreted.

    Seriously, 65% of people believe that? I had hoped it was just prevalent in media because of the easy story opportunities it offers, but that actual people realized what a load of crock it is. Maybe there was ambiguity or selection bias in the survey... I can dream, right?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:56pm

    Re:

    "The "you only use 10% of your brain" thing"
    is complete bullshit and now a hollywood movie will convince the gullible masses it is true, just like many think you can curve bullets, spaceships make noise - pew pew ... ad nauseum.

     

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    Kal Zekdor (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 1:17am

    Re: Re:

    Not to derail your story idea, but having 100% of your brain cells "on" at the same time would be a bit like having a seizure. Every possible output signal would be active at the same time, most likely causing wild convulsions and then shortly thereafter, death.

    Not that reality ever stopped a story that "feels" right from catching on.

     

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    Groaker (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 5:12am

    Larry Niven will soon be bested. For those of you below a certain age, he is an SF writer who created fictional current addicts called wire heads. A direct stimulation of the pleasure center of the brain for a few pennies worth of electricity a day. Implantees soon wasted away as there was no motivation that rivaled the pleasure obtainable from the wire (except of course, a charged set of batteries.) tDCS may soon provide a similar high that would be superficially indetectable.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 9:31am

    Re:

    This is extremely unlikely, due to physical constraints involving how electricity works and the construction of the human head. But if tDCS did become able to pull of anything close to the "wirehead" effect, then count me in!

     

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    Groaker (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:36am

    There are things that are so incredibly unlikely that their occurrence would completely undermine science as it is known today. So unlikely that they can be dismissed without further thought.

    There are other technologies that would have been thought impossible just a few decades, possibly a few years ago. Wrist radios for the population (aka cell phones) were considered to be impossible because of the total bandwidth consumed. Yet I recently had a call from the Great Wall of China to NY,US from one of these impossible devices.

    A machine that could focus multiple blast waves through tissue with trivial physical damage to the human subject, while pulverising a 1-2cm stone deep within fragile tissue would have been called impossible a couple of decades ago. But today we call it lithotripsy.

    There is an old saying. When a brilliant and distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost always right. If he says that something is impossible, he is almost always wrong.

    I won't argue that this is possible. But just off the top of my head, and in a field outside my own. I can see the potential for psuedomagnetic nanoparticles specifically adsorbed onto the nucleus accumbens (reptilian pleasure center), and activated by magnetic fields which might be experienced as pleasure beyond anything currently known to man. Ferociously expensive -- at least at first. Probably far cheaper to just stick a wire into the pleasure core.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 6:12am

    Re:

    I never said impossible, just extremely unlikely. There are real physical limits, after all. It is indeed possible to stimulate small neural clusters deep inside the brain without implanting electrodes, but those methods have nothing to do with tDCS. tDCS is an approach that is poorly suited in the extreme for that purpose.

     

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