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Smoking can boost memory and concentration: Study

July 14, 2008 18:55 IST

Scientists attempting to create a nicotine pill to treat Alzheimer's disease have suggested that smoking can help boost memory and concentration. Nicotine has long been known to have a stimulating effect on the brain.

However, the deadly side effects of cancer, stroke and heart disease, mean its benefits have been largely set aside by medical research. Now researchers, who hope to develop drugs which copy the active ingredients in tobacco without causing heart disease, cancer, stroke or addiction, discovered that nicotine can boost the intelligence and recall ability of animals in laboratory experiments.

The researchers, who plan to present their latest findings at the Forum of European Neuroscience in Geneva, hope that the new drugs, which will be available in five years, may have fewer side effects than existing medicines for dementia. However, the scientists stressed the new treatment at best will only give patients a few extra months of independent life instead of fully freeing them of Alzheimer's disease.

"The substances that we call drugs have, in the majority of cases, do have a mixture of beneficial and harmful effects and nicotine is no exception to this," Professor Ian Stoleman of Britain's King's College was quoted as saying by the Mail online.

Researchers led by Professor Stolerman studied how nicotine alters the brain's circuitry to boost concentration and memory. In his study, he showed that the concentration power in rats went up by 5 per cent when injected with nicotine, the report said.




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