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Beta Blockers and Cognition


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#1

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 03:20 PM


Cool find.

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1991 Jul;30(7):446-8.
The effect of beta blockade on stress-induced cognitive dysfunction in adolescents.Faigel HC.
University Health Services, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02254-9110.

Test anxiety is severely disabling to students whose fear of examinations causes cognitive dysfunction that paralyzes their thinking the way stage fright impairs actors ability to act. In studies using subjective evaluations among actors and musicians, beta-blockade relieved stage fright and has been used informally to treat test anxiety in students without objective measures of effectiveness. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) was chosen as an objective test instrument to confirm the effect of beta-blockade on test anxiety and performance. Thirty-two high school students who had already taken the SAT before enrolling in this study and who had stress-induced cognitive dysfunction on exams were given 40 mg of propranolol one hour before they retook those tests. Mean SAT scores with beta-blockade were 130 points higher than on the initial SAT done before entering the study without medication (p = less than .01). A single dose of propranolol immediately before the SAT permitted improved performance in students prone to cognitive dysfunction due to test anxiety.

Neuroreport. 1999 Sep 9;10(13):2763-7. Links
Noradrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility in problem solving.Beversdorf DQ, Hughes JD, Steinberg BA, Lewis LD, Heilman KM.
Department of Neurology, Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus 43210, USA.

Stress causes impaired performance on tests of creativity. Drugs that block beta-adrenergic receptors improve test performance in patients with test anxiety. Furthermore, catecholamine precursors (L-DOPA) reduce the flexibility of semantic networks. Our study investigated the effect of noradrenergic system modulation on cognitive flexibility in problem solving. Eighteen normal subjects undertook three problem solving tasks (number series, shape manipulation and anagrams) 45 min after propranolol, placebo and ephedrine. On the task that appeared to rely most heavily on cognitive flexibility (anagrams), subjects who were most able to solve these problems demonstrated significantly shorter solution times (logarithmic scores) after propranolol than after ephedrine. This suggested that the noradrenergic system exerts a modulatory effect on cognitive flexibility in problem solving.

Cogn Behav Neurol. 2004 Jun;17(2):93-7. Links
Effect of anxiolytics on cognitive flexibility in problem solving.Silver JA, Hughes JD, Bornstein RA, Beversdorf DQ.
Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.

OBJECTIVE: Our purpose is to examine the effect of different classes of anxiolytics on cognitive flexibility. BACKGROUND: Situational stressors and anxiety impede performance on "creativity" tests requiring cognitive flexibility. Noradrenergic agents have been shown to modulate cognitive flexibility as assessed by performance on anagrams. To determine whether these findings on noradrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility are specific to the noradrenergic system or are a nonspecific anxiety effect, we compared the effects of propranolol, lorazepam, and placebo on the anagram task. METHODS: Subjects attended 3 test sessions. Prior to each session, subjects were given 1 of the 3 drugs. As in previous research, the natural log of the solution latency of each test item was summed for each test session and compared across drug conditions. RESULTS: For subjects able to solve the anagrams, solution times after propranolol, but not lorazepam, were significantly lower than after placebo. CONCLUSIONS: Therefore, this suggests that the phenomenon of noradrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility does not result from a nonspecific anxiolytic effect, but rather is specific to the noradrenergic system.

Neuroreport. 2002 Dec 20;13(18):2505-7. Links
Central beta-adrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility.Beversdorf DQ, White DM, Chever DC, Hughes JD, Bornstein RA.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Health Science Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.

Situational stressors and anxiety impede performance on creativity tests requiring cognitive flexibility. Preliminary research revealed better performance on a task requiring cognitive flexibility, the anagram task, after propranolol (beta-adrenergic antagonist) than after ephedrine (beta-adrenergic agonist). However, propranolol and ephedrine have both peripheral and central beta-adrenergic effects. In order to determine whether noradrenergic modulation of cognitive flexibility is a centrally or peripherally mediated phenomenon, we compared the effects of propranolol (peripheral and central beta-blocker), nadolol (peripheral beta-blocker), and placebo on anagram task performance. Solution latency scores for each subject were compared across the drug conditions. Anagram solution latency scores after propranolol were significantly lower than after nadolol. This suggests a centrally mediated modulatory influence of the noradrenergic system on cognitive flexibility.
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#2 Athanasios

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 03:33 PM

Ashwagandha completely eliminates test anxiety for me.

Also, I make sure to drink a sugar drink before testing, as it keeps my brain from going kaput half-way through.

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#3

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 03:35 PM

Ashwagandha completely eliminates test anxiety for me.

Also, I make sure to drink a sugar drink before testing, as it keeps my brain from going kaput half-way through.


I like the preglucose loading idea. What dose and form of ashwagandha do you use?

#4 mrak1979

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 06:28 AM

Hmm I wonder how propranolol compares to atenolol, the latter designed not to bypass the blood brain barrier and cause depression and mood fluctuations. I used to take atenolol for certain situations but it had only a mild effect. Anyone know the differences in strength between atenolol and propranolol?

#5 mrmandrake

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Posted 07 May 2007 - 03:43 PM

Ashwagandha completely eliminates test anxiety for me.

Also, I make sure to drink a sugar drink before testing, as it keeps my brain from going kaput half-way through.


What dosage do you take before a test cnorwood?

#6 oregon

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 12:46 AM

Ashwagandha completely eliminates test anxiety for me.

Also, I make sure to drink a sugar drink before testing

I would suggest a small carbohydrate meal with some protein (sandwich?) instead of refined sugar. Sugar causes spike in insulin production, you end up burned out very fast. They recommend to absolutely avoid it for people with ADHD.

#7 Athanasios

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 12:52 AM

What dose and form of ashwagandha do you use?


I take an extract from Jarrows in capsules. I take 225mg of 8% a day. On test days, I take it before the test instead of after dinner.

I would suggest a small carbohydrate meal with some protein (sandwich?) instead of refined sugar. Sugar causes spike in insulin production, you end up burned out very fast. They recommend to absolutely avoid it for people with ADHD.


I do eat a meal such as you are describing about an hour before the test. It may work well for me because I am taking things such as ashwagandha, Rala, Green Tea, etc.

#8 dprice218

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 06:13 AM

Ashwagandha completely eliminates test anxiety for me.

Also, I make sure to drink a sugar drink before testing

I would suggest a small carbohydrate meal with some protein (sandwich?) instead of refined sugar. Sugar causes spike in insulin production, you end up burned out very fast. They recommend to absolutely avoid it for people with ADHD.


Yeah, I think half the reason why I expressed symptoms of ADHD in ninth grade was due to relatively poor control of my type 1 diabetes.

Quick changes in blood glucose levels really do lead to cognitive deficits. Just think of the fact that the brain requires by far the most amount of glucose to function normally as compared to any other organ.

#9

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:42 AM

Hmm I wonder how propranolol compares to atenolol, the latter designed not to bypass the blood brain barrier and cause depression and mood fluctuations. I used to take atenolol for certain situations but it had only a mild effect. Anyone know the differences in strength between atenolol and propranolol?


Well i can't find any studies on atenolol. Have you tried propranolol?

#10 luv2increase

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 05:35 PM

Propranolol, a smart drug???

lol
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#11 edward

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Posted 10 May 2007 - 06:25 PM

Propranolol, a smart drug???

lol


I agree, propanolol is definitely not a smart drug. I can understand the increase in performance in certain tasks such as public speaking, test taking and anxiety provoking sports such as golf but for everyday use propanolol is definitely not nootropic. I played around with at one time and found that it is not productive. I wouldn't take it before a test for fear of it slowing down my thinking. There are far better alternatives for anxiety such as ashwagandha (as cnorwood mentioned), theanine, pro serotonin supplements and medications like antidepressants. Again, for anxiety be it test taking, sports, social, public speaking whatever I would focus on mild GABA enhancing substances and serotonin enhancing substances and stay away from anti-adrenergic drugs like propanolol unless you have some serious problem there.

#12 khanzas

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Posted 11 May 2007 - 08:11 PM

Thirty-two high school students who had already taken the SAT before enrolling in this study and who had stress-induced cognitive dysfunction on exams were given 40 mg of propranolol one hour before they retook those tests.


What struck me about this was that the same stress inducers were almost certainly absent from the second round of exams. When you're actually sitting a public exam and the results have an affect on your life, you're surely going to be more stressed than when asked to do so when the outcome of the test has no significance (i.e. they may have been more relaxed going in to the retake).

I am inferring / assuming that the retake scores were not going to be used for college applications etc. and that a significant time had not passed (allowing further study to improve scores, etc.).

I should add that I'm not in North America, so not familiar with the SAT's.

#13

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Posted 13 May 2007 - 12:54 PM

I agree, propanolol is definitely not a smart drug. I can understand the increase in performance in certain tasks such as public speaking, test taking and anxiety provoking sports such as golf but for everyday use propanolol is definitely not nootropic. I played around with at one time and found that it is not productive. I wouldn't take it before a test for fear of it slowing down my thinking. There are far better alternatives for anxiety such as ashwagandha (as cnorwood mentioned), theanine, pro serotonin supplements and medications like antidepressants. Again, for anxiety be it test taking, sports, social, public speaking whatever I would focus on mild GABA enhancing substances and serotonin enhancing substances and stay away from anti-adrenergic drugs like propanolol unless you have some serious problem there.


Your suggestions are worthless without the clinical studies to back it up. Theres no research on your suggestions plus they do not address the adrenal system. It's a very safe drug and you only take it when you need it. For a 130 point increase it's well worth it.

#14 superdopa

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Posted 01 January 2008 - 11:36 PM

What about nicotine? It stimulates dopamine release and gives you energy but also increases endorphin production so you have a nice calm alertness.

#15 StrangeAeons

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 02:39 AM

Virtually every other nootropic people here take is a better idea than propanolol.
Beta blockers are used to slow heart rate, usually in conjunction with Lasix (furosemide) diuretics for CHF; also used in some instances of refractory depression, and as prep for surgery depending upon the nature of the anesthetic.
It's a really bad idea to screw with your catecholamine system and heart rate just for the sake of "cognitive enhancement".
Btw,
I just got off the phone with a friend of mine who's a biochemist at Eli Lilly.
She explained that their ADD medication Strattera works by specific inhibition of norepinephrine reuptake. That really seems to run contrary to the findings of this study.

#16 ortcloud

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 03:13 AM

I agree, propanolol is definitely not a smart drug. I can understand the increase in performance in certain tasks such as public speaking, test taking and anxiety provoking sports such as golf but for everyday use propanolol is definitely not nootropic. I played around with at one time and found that it is not productive. I wouldn't take it before a test for fear of it slowing down my thinking. There are far better alternatives for anxiety such as ashwagandha (as cnorwood mentioned), theanine, pro serotonin supplements and medications like antidepressants. Again, for anxiety be it test taking, sports, social, public speaking whatever I would focus on mild GABA enhancing substances and serotonin enhancing substances and stay away from anti-adrenergic drugs like propanolol unless you have some serious problem there.


Your suggestions are worthless without the clinical studies to back it up. Theres no research on your suggestions plus they do not address the adrenal system. It's a very safe drug and you only take it when you need it. For a 130 point increase it's well worth it.



all the suggestions are worthless unless they have a study ? So did you research all of the suggestions and not find any studies ? Or are you assuming ? So let me get this straight. So one day the substance doesnt work and then all of a sudden once there is a study then the substance starts working after that ? Interesting magic there. So let me ask you this, what if there was a study that confirmed that a substance works but you werent aware of the study, does the substance then work or not ? maybe only for the people that know about the study, haha ! I think there are some studies on theanine.

ok, on a more serious note/analysis. Various substances dont create the same effect in all people, a study is more of an analysis of the average effect across the group. There is always going to be some variance probably in a gaussian distribution fashion. What if you are one of those who this substance doesnt work for, where you are the one off to the side of the bell curve ? So would you just go ahead and blindly use the substance without any regard to how it effects you and if you can tell a difference ? Could it be that blind believers in study confirmed products have more placebo effect than they are aware of. I think some people put less emphasis on how they react to substances. I am certainly not saying that the placebo effect doesnt exist, but i think that some people discount their ability to have some shred of objectivity to use their experience as an additional data point.

Example, the 130 point increase. It is not really an increase, it is more of a blocking of a decrease due to adrenaline and other diminishment. So the efficacy of this beta blocker would be contingent upon you having test anxiety that is causing a 130 point drop from your potential. So it is not boosting, it is just preventing an attenuation caused by anxiety etc.

Edited by ortcloud, 02 January 2008 - 03:19 AM.

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#17 Matt

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 03:58 AM

I have a problem with test anxiety usually, one time I felt really sick before the test I got that nervous lol.

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#18 haim78

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Posted 05 January 2008 - 09:57 AM

I have a problem with test anxiety usually, one time I felt really sick before the test I got that nervous lol.


I think this is the "quid" of the question, propanolol won´t be valuable as a cognitive enhancer unless you suffer from "stress-paralysing" anxiety.
I can remember some day that I was really stressed because I had an exam next morning and I couldn´t even read the book because of the anxiety, I feeled my heart beating crazily and I then decided to take half an atenolol and... really it was miraculous, it didn´t make me more smart but at least I could read and understand.




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