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Out in the drug labs of Tegala, they have came up with a new drug that turns off the rational portion of the brain. It lasts for about 3 hours, and while it is active, a person under the influence of it would be in an animalistic state, were they would lose their consciousness and mindlessly search for food, water, and heat.

No memories are made during the 3 hours

The Tegalians want to see if anyone would want to use this drug for recreational purposes.

My question is: What would be a plausible appeal for using this drug, and what possible uses could it serve in practical settings, if any?

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  • $\begingroup$ Does a person has any memories after the effects are gone? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jun 1, 2018 at 23:42
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    $\begingroup$ I've known many people who consumed vast amounts of alcohol and e.g. woke up with no memory of where they had been and what they had done and, in a couple of cases, no idea of where they were. People seem happy to consume these things for no practical gain and at considerable risk and without remembering any enjoyment. So what was your question again ? :-) $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2018 at 1:17
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    $\begingroup$ @DTCooper My point being that people do consume various substances and don't actually remember any "good" they got from it because of the side effects. Have you considered any of the usual reasons people have for taking things that have bad side effects ? $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2018 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ I'm beginning to be unhappy with open-ended questions. They're story-based by definition (IMO). You tell us. What's the upside to the drug, other than making 3 hours of your life disappear? What was the point of developing it in the first place? Remember, STack Exchange is a Q&A service, not a discussion forum. $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2018 at 4:41
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    $\begingroup$ Many drugs turn off reasoning to some degree. This question looks like you are asking us to write your book for you. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Jun 2, 2018 at 7:48

3 Answers 3

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The drug could be used as a date-rape drug.

It could be abused if the victim does have a strong sexual attraction to the assailant but tries to suppress that attraction for rational reasons (they already are in a relationship, they are looking for something more long-term, they decided to be celibate, it would break a taboo to have sex with that person, etc.).

The rapist secretly administers the drug to the victim. A bit later, the victim would be overcome by their animalistic sexual urges and have wild, uninhibited sex with the rapist. Afterwards, the victim would not remember the encounter. If the victim does realized what happened in those three hours by conjecture, the rapist could use the "you know you secretly wanted it" argument to blame the victim and persuade them to not press charges.

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If realism is important in your novel, you should bear in mind that all the areas of the brain, although consisting of numerous ‘functions’ (for instance, the Area of Broca and Wernicke’s Area are implicated in the provision of speech, the hippocampus forms part of the emotional memory formation substrate, etc), by and large follow the same processing paradigm – receive inputs; do stuff; push outputs.

The elements of this paradigm also follow a predictable physiology – that is, the actual type of neurotransmitter may vary (dopamine, serotonin, GABA, etc), but the operation is the same: neurotransmitters (regardless of type) collect in vesicles and move towards the neural terminal in these vesicles, which merges with the terminal wall, thus causing the neurotransmitter content to be dumped into the synaptic gap. After an interval, a ‘pump’ sucks up the remaining transmitters (called re-uptake); the other transmitters of this collection bind with specific receptor channels on the dendrites of the recipient neuron. As an important note: this does not change for the different areas of the brain.

All controlled substances either act as agonists (accelerating this flow), or antagonists (interrupting the flow). Accordingly, your drug will not be able to isolate areas of function, (e.g. decision-making and memory formation), since neurotransmitters are widely shared by the neural functions. The closest we’d get is something similar to cocaine – which antagonises the re-uptake of dopamine, causing heightened states of alertness due to a dopaminergic hyper-flow in the synaptic gap.

As a further consideration: in order for the effect of your drug to exist, a substantial portion of the brain will need to be ‘knocked out’. The brain was not designed in a single architectural sitting. It is the product of 3.5 billion years of small, incremental changes. Consequently, there are ancient parts of the brain (including the misnomer ‘Lizard Brain’) and these are typically found at the core of the brain and close to the stem. The anatomically modern neural areas are usually located closer to the surface of the brain and on the extremities (for instance the inferior frontal gyrus, located at the tip off the pre-frontal cortex is implicated in the go\no-go phase of our decision-making process). For your drug to work, certain modern neural areas such as the primary visual cortex will have to remain operational (or the user will experience vivid visual effects of all sorts, resulting in not being a very capable ‘animal’).

The alternative to this knock-out, is to provide the ancient neural areas an unfair advantage (the 'how' remains elusive) – these areas are less complex than their modern equivalents and are therefore (as a rule of the thumb) capable of completing their less complex tasks in less time. That is why it is possible to ‘jump scare’ a human with something as preposterous as a ‘gorilla in the house’ type prank. The modern parts of the brain can compute that gorillas do not belong in your house and that it is a prank when one jumps out at you. However, the ancient pathways do not make such contextual calculations, and respond to ‘big, furry, moving very fast towards me’. The ancient parts of the brain are therefore able to complete their function (triggering the fight/flight reflex) earlier than the modern pathways, and… you utter a species-specific vocal alarm (aka a girly scream), hands fly up in defence, face contort in anticipation, upper body recoils from the threat – a classic early flight response.

Why would someone find this effect enjoyable? Some transmitters are associated with the ‘reward system’ (e.g. serotonin – implicated in enjoyable activities, such as food, sex, etc), others with heightened sense of awareness (in itself pleasurable). There are additional effects, such as endorphin (the brain’s own morphine) releases following certain stresses (causing inter alia the knees to go weak, and analgesia), and these too are quite pleasurable.

As the answer to your question is: construct a (realistic) reward to a chemical which causes medium term physical alterations to one type of ionic channel – that’ll cause the substance to be super addictive, requiring a substantial rehabilitation to kick (read up on the medium to long term effects of heroin).

For something this specialist, you will need further reading if you are to have any hope of staying between the lines. I suggest any of the works of V.S Ramachandran, Eric Kandel, Steven Pinker, Motoy Kuno (his work titled The Synapse), David Eagleman, etc. Ramachandran's Tell-tale Brain may provide an interesting (non-chemical) angle as a solution - think implants. Enjoy.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1for the further reading! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Jun 2, 2018 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ Recent advances in neuro-chemistry have completely debunked the "reuptake" theory. This has made a hole in our understanding of neuro chemistry very visible, and explains why pharmaceuticals designed around that theory often have unpredictable effects. The last I heard, they were still figuring out what the metabolic pathways really are that were believed to be reuptake related. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Jun 2, 2018 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ @pojo-guy - thank you for the pointer. I confess that I'm not as current as I used to be in this fast-developing field. Do you have any references of this, preferably on a site that supports Shibboleth access? $\endgroup$
    – Quintin
    Jun 2, 2018 at 13:10
  • $\begingroup$ I'll hunt around and see if I can find the article again. Unfortunately, Google is good for finding popular reading, but not so good for finding deep technical papers. $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Jun 2, 2018 at 13:26
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The Tegalians want to see if anyone would want to use this drug for recreational purposes.

Many people use many drugs which don't benefit them and are actually dangerous, or overindulge in others which provide the same effect. Nothing is needed but the will to rebel and do stupid things. Peer pressure, addiction, escape from reality briefly etc,. can contribute, but pure willingness to be an idiot is enough.

I drank a heck of a lot of whiskey last weekend and spent a whole day feeling very sick and listening to friends and loved ones telling me off over my behaviour, so not only did I spend a lot of money, but I got no benefit that I recall. Despite that, it's unlikely to be my last brush with whiskey. If I was an alcoholic or drug addict I'd probably be back on it now rather than keeping low profile for a while.

So if this drug was addictive you'd probably find plenty of takers that started just to show off, then got hooked. It's doubtful that heroin addicts started with the intention of becoming addicts.

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  • $\begingroup$ From what I have heard of heroin addicts is that they didn't start it to show off how far they can drive self-destructive behavior. They did it because they heard that it is indeed that good, and most of them agree that it is indeed the most awesome drug they ever took. And that's part of the reason why it is such a dangerous drug: If you experienced it once, no joy in life compares to it. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Jun 2, 2018 at 21:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Philipp are you implying that they didn't know it was highly addictive and dangerous before they took it? Self distructive under peer pressure is what happens. $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    Jun 2, 2018 at 23:09

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