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Brain Power Drugs & Susan Polgar

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Anonymous
April 26, 2005 9:21:57 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

http://washingtontimes.com/national/20050424-123622-944...

Brainpower drugs coming for sports

By Patrick Hruby
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Susan Polgar will never be mistaken for Jose Canseco. For one thing,
she's a mother of two; but more to the point, she's far too smart. A
four-time women's world champion in chess, Miss Polgar lifts kings and
queens, not dumbbells and subpoenas.
So imagine Mrs. Polgar's surprise when officials asked for a urine
sample after her four-medal performance at last year's Chess Olympiad in
Calvia, Spain.
"I can't say it was a pleasant experience," said Mrs. Polgar, 35, a
chess grandmaster from Forest Hills, New York. "I have no idea what they
were really testing for."

Try this: anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and a host of
other banned substances. Two years ago, the International Chess
Federation adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency's universal drug code,
subjecting chess players to the same standards as Olympic sprinters.
Never mind that Mrs. Polgar needs a syringe of THG about as much as
track star Marion Jones needs a better Sicilian defense.
"Even if a drug makes you bigger and stronger, it won't help you
think better," Mrs. Polgar said. "You need logic, planning,
concentration. To my knowledge, there is no drug that would help us play
better chess."
In the near future, that may not be the case. While muscle-building
drugs spawn home runs and congressional hearings, a coming era of
cognitive enhancement promises boosted brains to rival baseball's
bulging biceps.
Picture a golfer who never gets nervous, a basketball player
learning to shoot perfect free throws with the help of a pill.
Can't quite conceive it? Don't worry — there may be a pill for
that, too.
"The idea of [cognitive enhancement] is starting to take hold on a
larger and larger scale," said Dr. Vernon Williams, a sports neurologist
and pain-management specialist at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in
Los Angeles. "Lots of people are still kind of unaware. But that's only
temporary.
"Before long, this will be something that is potentially as much an
issue in sports as steroids."

'Doogie' mice
The year is 1999. Princeton University scientists are studying two
groups of mice: one normal, the other given extra copies of NR2B, a gene
linked to memory and learning.
Both types of mice are dropped into a pool of water. The modified
mice find a hidden escape ramp twice as quickly as their normal
counterparts. In other tests, the NR2B mice show improved memory.
Scientists nickname them "Doogies," after precocious television
doctor Doogie Howser. In football terms, the Doogie mice are pro star
quarterback Peyton Manning, the others are quarterback bust Ryan Leaf.
"Imagine a quarterback who has improved ability to memorize and
recognize defensive schemes," said Dr. Williams, who works with the Los
Angeles Lakers, Dodgers and Kings. "That could have a significant effect
on the win-loss column."
Safe and effective human genetic therapy remains years away. Still,
the athletic implications are profound. Beyond his "flaxseed-oil"
physique, what makes San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds fearsome
is his baseball IQ — his ability to discern good pitches from bad ones,
to lock in and crush a pitcher's mistake.
Two decades ago, Penn State epidemiologist Charles Yesalis
approached legendary Iowa State wrestling coach Dan Gable at a meet. The
coach looked him in the eye, and said, "I can't believe how mental sport
is."
"At any level of competition, what really separates the top 10 guys
or gals is the mental aspect," said Mr. Yesalis, an expert on steroids
in sports. "Physiologically, they're almost the same. The difference
comes in handling pressure."
At the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., sports psychologist Trevor
Moawad teaches athletes such as D.C. United's soccer star Freddy Adu to
limit "self-talk," the 1,000-plus words running through the mind in any
given minute. The goal? Develop Barry Bondslike focus.
Though Mr. Moawad shies from brain-boosting drugs and supplements,
he suspects others in sports are less circumspect.
"It's definitely something that's out there," Mr. Moawad said.
"Anything that can be used as a performance enhancer, it's tough to
imagine that people wouldn't take shortcuts."

Modafinil and beyond
Imagination isn't necessary. Two years ago, American sprinter Kelli
White swept the 100 and 200 meters at the track and field world
championships in France.
She also tested positive for modafinil, a drug used to treat the
sleep disorder narcolepsy. That year, five other American athletes were
caught taking the same medication, which according to Cambridge
University researchers can boost memory and motor control in healthy
people.
"This drug allows you to be very focused," said Dr. Olivier Rabin,
science director for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). "I have a
friend who took it when driving at night. He said it was almost like
driving in the day."
Modafinil since has been placed on WADA's banned substance list. As
other drugs with cognitive effects that could give athletes an unfair
competitive advantage are developed, the list is likely to lengthen.
Nobel laureate Eric Kandel, a leading memory scientist, predicts
medications for age-related memory loss will exist within the next
decade. Donepzil, an Alzheimer's disease drug, already has been shown to
increase the concentration and alertness of pilots in a flight simulator.
Johns Hopkins University scientist Daniel L. Alkon is working on
two promising medications: One that enhances learning; another that
helps short-term memories become permanent.
While both drugs are designed to treat neurological disorders, they
could augment healthy people in the same way that steroids used to
alleviate AIDS-related wasting can build bigger muscles.
"We test our drugs on animals that are compromised with Alzheimer's
genes, and also on normal animals," said Mr. Alkon, scientific director
of the school's Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute. "We want
to see if it enhances their memory. I think inevitably that will happen."
Memory is just the beginning. Medications that help stroke patients
relearn motor skills, for instance, could help healthy individuals learn
to play the piano — or throw a perfect football spiral.
In trials, the beta-blocking heart drug Propranolol has been shown
to dampen the traumatic memories of patients injured in accidents.
Picture a kicker popping a pill to forget a botched field goal.
"I don't have a crystal ball, but I see things like this as a real
likelihood," Mr. Alkon said. "And not so far into the future. It's not
too early to start thinking about it."

Imperfect drugs
Or to start worrying. Like Donepzil, the Alzheimer's drug Aricept
improves flight-simulator performance.
It also triggers dizziness, vomiting and fainting — hardly
desirable in a cockpit setting, let alone a football huddle.
"Drugs are so imperfect," Mr. Alkon said. "Improving performance
will be a matter of art and sophistication. You can see the potential
for extremes and excesses."
Consider the protein IL-6, which spikes in the body after long
workouts and signals the brain that muscle tissue is breaking down. When
flooded with IL-6, the brain prevents additional harm by creating a
feeling of exhaustion.
Develop a drug that blocks the brain's IL-6 receptors, researchers
at the University of Portsmouth speculate, and you could blunt fatigue.
The downside: Increased injury risk. If your arm feels ready to fall
off, there likely is a good reason.
Similarly, a focus-enhancing pill could work too well — after all,
a batter needs to concentrate on a high-and-inside fastball, but not so
much that he neglects to duck.
Add in the seeming interdependence of various brain functions, and
Dr. Williams wonders whether mental boosters will violate the first rule
of medicine: Do no harm.
"You're taking all these medications to increase memory," he said.
"What about information overload? You're talking about changing brain
chemistry, or even changing the anatomy of the brain."
Remember the Doogie mice? Additional tests showed they not only
were smarter, but also more sensitive to chronic inflammatory pain.
"There's a known relationship between cognition and mood," Dr.
Williams said. "The more people remember, the more intently focused they
are, the more they tend to have depression. It's the old statement,
'Ignorance is bliss.' "
Not always. If a pill possibly aids performance, Mr. Yesalis said,
athletes will take it; if a pill definitely aids performance, athletes
will take two dozen.
Sports stars could become unwitting lab mice.
"Do large doses of these medications work the same way in normal
people as they do in the sick?" Dr. Williams asked. "That's a little
scary, because we don't know. Despite our desire to be careful, the
public doesn't want to wait for that."

Brave new world?
Nor do they wait. Ritalin, a prescription drug, is used to treat
attention deficit disorder. It also is used by students cramming for
exams and professionals looking for a productivity boost. An elementary
school janitor in Indiana swiped the drug from her school's nursing
office, hoping it would speed her cleaning.
The drug has penetrated sports, too.
"I've spoken to athletes on the college and high school levels who
readily admit, 'Yeah, I know guys who pop a Ritalin just before game
time,' " Dr. Williams said. "That's happening now. They do it for
improved focus."
Which hardly makes them unique. According to the scientific journal
Nature, Americans spend $1 billion a year on dietary supplements
claiming to boost brain power. The demand for cognitive enhancers
already exists. As medicine advances, the supply will catch up.
When that occurs, sports organizations will face an ethical
dilemma: Should they prohibit the same drugs eagerly embraced by the
rest of society?
"If and when these drugs have a real effect on normal people, they
are going to put Viagra to shame," said Dr. Paul Root Wolpe, NASA's
chief of bioethics. "Look at the market for Prozac, for Ritalin.
Americans take psychopharmaceuticals at a greater rate than any other
country. And we agonize about it more than any other country."
Ultimately, predicts futurist Jerome Glenn, there will be two
leagues — one for natural humans, and one for their chemically enhanced
counterparts.
Think brave new world, only with golf handicaps.
"I remember conversations in the mid-1960s where people actually
said, "If you transplant a heart, you've lost your soul,' " said Mr.
Glenn, executive director of the American Council for the United Nations
University. "There's a time lag with these things. But there is no
stopping the human desire to be better."
Should such a future come to pass, count chess champion Polgar
among the naturals. For her, sport is a matter of self-expression, not
advanced pharmacology.
Besides, she isn't even keen on the only substance currently
thought to improve chess performance.
"I don't really drink coffee religiously like some chess players,"
she said with a laugh.
Anonymous
April 26, 2005 12:28:05 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

On Tue, 26 Apr 2005 05:21:57 -0400, Bugsy <Bugsy@none.com> wrote:

Good catch. Thanks.

Also on the horizon, and harder to detect, are various forms of
surgical performance enhancement.
Anonymous
April 26, 2005 5:13:36 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

Here is a great line from this article. Please do not overlook it.

On Tue, 26 Apr 2005 05:21:57 -0400, Bugsy <Bugsy@none.com> wrote:

>http://washingtontimes.com/national/20050424-123622-944...
>
> Never mind that Mrs. Polgar needs a syringe of THG about as much as
>track star Marion Jones needs a better Sicilian defense.
Related resources
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Anonymous
April 26, 2005 5:37:27 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

Mike Murray wrote:
> On Tue, 26 Apr 2005 05:21:57 -0400, Bugsy <Bugsy@none.com> wrote:
>
> Good catch. Thanks.
>
> Also on the horizon, and harder to detect, are various forms of
> surgical performance enhancement.

Like a microchip implant that has all the 32 tablebases?
Anonymous
April 26, 2005 6:30:47 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

On 26 Apr 2005 13:37:27 -0700, "Liam Too" <liamtoo805@yahoo.com>
wrote:

>Mike Murray wrote:
>> On Tue, 26 Apr 2005 05:21:57 -0400, Bugsy <Bugsy@none.com> wrote:
>>
>> Good catch. Thanks.
>>
>> Also on the horizon, and harder to detect, are various forms of
>> surgical performance enhancement.
>
>Like a microchip implant that has all the 32 tablebases?

Not talking about cyborgizing anybody. It's all organic. There are
some surgical tweaks to the shoulder, often done to repair injury,
that can be done to a healthy pitcher and increase the throwing power
of the arm. Other operations, involving, e.g., pain tolerance or
vision, could enhance athletic performance. No reason this stuff
couldn't eventually enhance the performance of the cognitive system
for certain tasks.
Anonymous
April 27, 2005 4:37:31 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

There is a product available over the counter that helps counteract
tiredness and can improve concentration when fatigued. I have used it
myself on occasion. Its called Psuedoephridrine and I have got results
from it. Ofcourse it will not suit everyone as we all respond
differently to medication. I found out about this decongestant product
when I had a cold and I noticed its energy booster effects.
BarbaraVilliers
Anonymous
April 27, 2005 11:38:44 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

On 27 Apr 2005 00:37:31 -0700, "BarbaraVilliers"
<louise@cernunos.globalnet.co.uk> wrote:

>There is a product available over the counter that helps counteract
>tiredness and can improve concentration when fatigued. I have used it
>myself on occasion. Its called Psuedoephridrine and I have got results
>from it. Ofcourse it will not suit everyone as we all respond
>differently to medication. I found out about this decongestant product
>when I had a cold and I noticed its energy booster effects.

I've used Sudafed for sinus problems in the past, and it does keep you
awake. I've heard that it's the second line of defense against
fatigue (after caffeine) for medical interns. IMO, it gives one a
kind of jittery alertness, but doesn't increase the quality of
concentration. YMMV.

Incidentally, a load of Pseudoephedrine is a prereq for a meth lab.
Haven't tried that little goodie, fortunately, but I've heard it keeps
one awake for days at a time. Again, I'm not aware it makes one think
more effectively.

>BarbaraVilliers
Anonymous
April 27, 2005 5:00:33 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

"BarbaraVilliers" <louise@cernunos.globalnet.co.uk> wrote in message
news:1114587451.720483.19050@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com...
> There is a product available over the counter that helps counteract
> tiredness and can improve concentration when fatigued.

Coffee?

> I have used it
> myself on occasion. Its called Psuedoephridrine and I have got results
> from it. Ofcourse it will not suit everyone as we all respond
> differently to medication. I found out about this decongestant product
> when I had a cold and I noticed its energy booster effects.
> BarbaraVilliers

Sure. The question is about drugs which enhance chess performance so as to
provide unfair competitive advantage over an opponent. it is not what can
temporarily return you to a normal state of health.

Some people claim there are enhancing drugs - but these are not peer
reviewed studies by the medical profession, and while they may
[provisionally] enhance one thing - do they degrade something else?

If the subject is that of neurology, lets us rest our judgment in the
medical and psychological profession, and not as Fide did, in a single
chiropractor.

Cordially, Phil Innes
Anonymous
April 27, 2005 5:00:34 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

On Wed, 27 Apr 2005 13:00:33 GMT, "Chess One" <innes8@verizon.net>
wrote:

>Some people claim there are enhancing drugs - but these are not peer
>reviewed studies by the medical profession, and while they may
>[provisionally] enhance one thing - do they degrade something else?

>If the subject is that of neurology, lets us rest our judgment in the
>medical and psychological profession, and not as Fide did, in a single
>chiropractor.

I believe the effectiveness of caffeine has been peer-reviewed. But
assume, for the sake of argument, that some substances and/or surgical
procedures (as in baseball) are found which demonstrably impact
competitiveness and are sometimes justified clinically. What then?
The person who required the prescription or surgery has competitve
advantage, even to the detriment of other aspects of that person's
life.

This isn't too different than what goes on today. The huge bulk
acquired by professional football linemen usually entails knee
problems later on, as well as a shorter lifespan.

>
>Cordially, Phil Innes
>
Anonymous
April 28, 2005 5:07:39 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.chess.computer,rec.games.chess.politics (More info?)

well as I said, the reaction of drugs on the physiology of the
individual can be unpredictable. My husband once tried speed. The only
effect it had was to make him tired and hungry duh!. I personally find
caffeine makes just me irritable whereas I find pseudoephridrine can
help my concentration. This may well be a rare reaction to the stuff. I
can only speak from experience here.
BarbaraVilliers
!