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UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

Lose the string around your finger

How beneficial would it be for college students to take a pill to improve their memory and cognition with no side effects?

It may sound like a finals week coffee-induced daydream, but visiting lecturer Dr. Gary Lynch said it will be reality in about five years, if not three.

Lynch was unanimously selected by a committee of UNF faculty and staff to speak at the University Center Sept. 10 about his 30 years of research in the fields of memory enhancement and cognition.

He was a councilor of the Society for Neuroscience and a member of various scientific advisory boards, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, Allergan Inc. and E.I. DuPont.

Lynch said memory is fragile for about fifteen minutes before becoming a stable memory, as the brain is always receiving information but has naturally occurring rhythms that delete what it deems unnecessary (yes, even that historical date for your history test).

In his lecture, he discussed strategies to enhance memory and three main topics: memory loss due to the aging process, science’s urge to test the boundaries of human limits and the pros and cons of the memory-enhancing drug Ampakine.

Ampakine has been tested on rats as well as about 500 to 1,000 young adults and adults over the age of 65, with results showing the drug does in fact accelerate learning and improve memory with no known side effects, Lynch said.

The drug does this by making “holes” in the brain’s neurons, causing them to stay open longer, allowing stronger currents to pass through, which improves communication between cortical regions in the brain, Lynch said.

The drug also facilitates the synaptic machinery that encodes memory by adding more receptors, he said.

These processes basically force the brain to devote more of its time and energy to storing information, Lynch said.

“As we age, [the] machine in our brain for encoding memory weakens and the erasing machine gets stronger,” he said.

College students, most in their prime of life, must “learn to learn” rather than focusing on specific and trivial facts, Lynch said. Most students think just by reading something one time they will be able to remember it, but without wanting to learn and store the information, the student will most likely forget.

“The student must most importantly want to learn and then practice to learn,” he said. “Students should not take a setback of a bad grade as a measure of their IQ.”

Rebekah Davis, a physical therapy graduate student was encouraged to attend the lecture by one of her professors.

“The lecture was not what I intended it to be. I thought he would have a different approach on how memory and cognition can be improved in more practical, everyday ways,” Davis said.

Although the lecture was not what she expected, Davis said she still benefited from it by learning a lot about memory and the mechanisms involved.

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