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  Alzheimer’s drug can boost perceptual learning in healthy adults


Narrator:       This is Science Today. A drug that's used to treat Alzheimer's disease can actually boost perceptual learning in healthy adults. Michael Silver, an assistant professor of optometry and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, says healthy subjects who were given Donepezil, which is known on the market as Aricept, showed significantly greater benefits from practice while performing a visual task on a computer.

Silver:            All of the subjects became better at doing this task; but when subjects practiced the task while under the influence of this drug, the learning was more dramatic. So, it was almost twice as great when they did this training process under the influence of the drug.

Narrator:       This boost in perceptual learning has implications for the future — particularly in the possible treatment for those with clinical conditions such as dyslexia.

Silver:            And so the finding that there's a simple and safe drug treatment that can enhance perceptual learning perhaps could be useful for treatment of these patient groups. So, that's something that more research is needed to know for sure.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.