It may sound like something from 2011 thriller Limitless, but researchers have discovered a pill that helps adults learn new skills as quickly as children. A professor at Harvard rewired the brain of a visually impaired women to process images by giving her Alzheimer’s drug donepezil.
The pill boosts chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and acetylcholine, which are both found in high concentrations in the brains of young children. These chemicals naturally reduce with age. Children under seven develop new skills rapidly because their brains go through what’s called ‘critical periods’ of development.
Due to high levels of certain chemicals and the fast growth of the brain, young children learn new languages, absorb information and pick up musical skills, for example, much faster than adults. In adults, these skills become harder as the brain reaches peak development and loses this ‘elasticity’.