Now, popping a pill may make you smart

It sounds like something out of a film, but scientists may have discovered a way to make you smarter – by reverting the brain to a “plastic” child-like state. Researchers at Stanford University experimented by interfering with PirB, a protein expressed in animal brain cells that allows skills to be recalled but which also hampers the ability to learn new skills, and realised they could disrupt the receptor’s regular function, allowing the brain to make faster connections.

By doing so, Professor Carla Shatz and her colleagues, Dr. David Bochner and Richard Sapp, found that their test subjects – animals – were better able to adapt to using only one eye, compared to animals that did not have the PirB molecule supressed. In repressing the protein to a “plastic” state – which is a technical term that implies the ability to adapt to new conditions – Professor Shatz saw that at least one part of the brain became more malleable and could more easily recover from damage, rewire itself and learn new skills – in effect making a person smarter. Health news: in pictures Neuroplasticity, which occurs in the brain under two primary conditions, describes how experiences reorganise neural pathways in the brain – or what happens when we learn something new (like a skill) or memorise information.

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