Perfecting the mind: ‘Smart pill’ unlocks childlike state of learning in adults
Scientists from Stanford University say they have discovered a way to unlock a part of the brain that is responsible for assisting humans in learning new skills with the ease and wonderment that is identifiable in children.
The scientific community offers a wide variety of cures for alleviating any number of ailments, and now it appears set to provide the world with a smart pill.
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Stanford Professor Carla Shatz and her colleagues, Dr. David Bochner and Richard Sapp, conducted animal experiments where they interfered with a brain protein called PirB (in humans it is called “LilrB2″) that suddenly allowed a part of the brain to become more “plastic” – similar to that of a child’s brain that stores new information at a rapid pace.
The research, first reported on Neomatica, shows that by repressing the LilrB2 protein, the brain is capable of repairing itself and learning new skill sets.
The discovery opens the way for finding new ways of treating various diseases and illnesses, including Alzheimer’s.
Scientists have discovered that amyloid beta, a protein that is found in excessive quantities in people suffering from Alzheimer’s, binds to the LilrB2 protein, which promotes the loss of synaptic plasticity.
But in addition to helping to cure diseases and brain injuries, the finds offer the promise of opening the door in the brain that exhibits “smart” properties, so to speak.
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A child's mind is flexible and capable of absorbing a flood of new perceptions from its constant exposure to new experiences. However, as people go through the aging process, our neural receptors strengthen and we become less adaptive to learning new things – like a second language, for example, or calculus.
By repressing the LilrB2 proteins, scientists hope to achieve in adults the childlike state of pure fascination with learning.