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Experiment Shows Caffeine Boosts Long Term Memory 123

An anonymous reader writes "A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins has published results demonstrating that caffeine seems to boost long-term memory. In a double-blind study, participants were shown a series of images soon after taking either a caffeine pill or a placebo; 24 hours later they were tested on a similar, but not identical, series of images. Those who took the caffeine pill were more likely to correctly classify images as being different, identical, or similar to those seen the previous day; researchers refer to this as a 'pattern separation' test. The beneficial effect of caffeine on the long-term memory of honey bees was covered by Slashdot earlier."
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Experiment Shows Caffeine Boosts Long Term Memory

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:12AM (#45939333)

    You lack of knowledge and experience publishing in a peer-reviewed science journal is understandable, but I am surprised that someone who posts to /. (yes, even an AC) doesn't realize that the functions you described do not require a large staff or very much direct human oversight. All submissions for every journal are required to adhere to strict formatting rules/guidelines. The purpose of which is to simplify the 'back-end' of the publishing process. The actual cost of publishing an article in Nature, Science, or other top-tier journal is rather small and the bulk of the money earned by these organizations goes to executives and shareholders in the publishing industry. It is ironic considering almost all of the actual science is paid for government funds or non-publishing industry and considering that the principal investigator (PI: lead scientist) is responsible for his own editing and typesetting. Since the PI spends so much of his time (or that of his post-docs or grad students) preparing the actual publication, the journal should be providing a share of the profits from each transaction to the PI or institution where the science was actually conducted (IMO).

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @12:16PM (#45940173)

    Evolution has a lot of time to scope out all simple neurochemical effects, so beware studies that suggest they've found a "smart pill". Sure, it's possible to take a drug to make you better at one specific task to the detriment of some others, but the idea that there is any simple cognitive enhancing substance would imply either "evolution couldn't mimic the effect of this substance on the brain" or "cognitive enhancement isn't an evolutionary good move". Neither seems very likely.

    I'm not seeing the evidence for strong forces selecting for better cognitive performance. It seems like there are a lot of evolutionary niches where brain-power loses out to other specializations.

    Suppose there's a substance that improves overall cognitive processing, but at a metabolic cost that requires 30% more caloric intake? Or suppose it interferes with efficient storage of fat? Either of those would be a deleterious trait in pre-modern populations.

    Suppose it improves cognitive processing, but reduces fertility by 50%? Again, it would be bred out rapidly.

    Many of the constraints that guided our evolutionary history no longer apply. I don't expect a miracle pill, either, but saying "if cognitive enhancers existed we'd already have evolved to produce them" seems kind of disingenuous.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.