By Anupum Pant
Today we find out if it would be a good idea to impress your friends during the next gathering by hacking your brain with pills to learn a rare ability fairly quickly. But first, pay attention to the following jargon.
Perfect pitch is an exceptional ability among few gifted humans that enables them to recognize and re-create the pitch of a musical note instantly without the help of any external reference. There have been no cases of adults learning this ability by practice. However, pseudo absolute pitch can be learnt with great practice and only retained through regular use.
Learning to recognize musical notes, or any other ability for that matter can be reasonably easy at an early age due to a brain’s plastic state. The brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience is far better at younger ages. As people age, they lose the ability to learn like kids.
For instance, picture the rate at which infants learn language. By the time they turn 2 – 4 years old, they start using thousands of words. Try learning a new language at the age of 35. It is tough.
However, a new research suggests that this state of brain can be recovered by using drugs. One such drug, according to Dr. Takao Hensch is Valporate.
Is Valporate a Performance Enhancing Drug?
No! it is not a performance enhancing drug. Valporate or Valporic acid is a drug sold under the common names – Depakote, Depacon and Stavzor. For several years it has been used to treat various disorders from migraines to bipolar disorder. It is a chemical substance that can cross the blood–brain barrier. As a result, it has the power to affect an individual’s perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior.
Dr. Takao Hensch, a Harvard University professor, recently published a study which tested the effects of Valporate on 23 healthy male subjects for two weeks. None of them had a musical experience. During this period they were trained in music. At the end of this study, researchers found that these 23 men did remarkably better than an average adult would do, at perfect pitch tests.
In the future
He thinks, may be 10 years down the line, this drug could be used to enhance other learning abilities like language learning among adults, by changing the state of their brains.
Presently, studies on how the brain changes at cellular level when this drug is taken are underway. Also, Dr. Hensch thinks that humans have evolved to experience these learning stages for a reason. If it is okay to mess around with it, is still being studied. At this stage, trying this out at home can be extremely risky. It would be wise for us to wait for scientists to come out with a comprehensive study on the effects of this drug.