Sunday, March 22, 2015

Will statins make me smarter too?

For the next two weeks, I’ll conduct a new test to measure the effect of simvastatin on my Brain Reaction Time.
Two or three Kirkland fish oil pills taken daily make me score higher on Seth Robert’s Brain Reaction Time test. After six months of self-testing, the effect is pretty robust, as you can see from this simple T-test:
##  Welch Two Sample t-test
## data:  rik$ptile[rik$Fish.Oil == 0] and rik$ptile[rik$Fish.Oil > 0]
## t = -2.7736, df = 90.886, p-value = 0.006728
## alternative hypothesis: true difference in means is not equal to 0
## 95 percent confidence interval:
##  -14.489218  -2.396073
## sample estimates:
## mean of x mean of y 
##  45.36170  53.80435
What causes the effect? I have some guesses related to role that Omega-3 fats play in brain nutrition, but are there other ways to get similar effects? I’ve already disproven many of the obvious other candidates (sleep, alcohol, vitamin D), but several fellow quantified-selfers have suggested I look also at statin drugs, which besides lowering cholesterol, also seem to benefit the brain. Mark Drangsholt, who studied this extensively on himself, says 2-3 weeks of treatment helped him reduce or eliminate brain fog.
So I’m going to try the same thing: for the next two weeks, I’ll take 20mg of simvastatin daily while I continue to test my BRT for changes. I’ve taken no fish oil for the past two weeks (and as predicted, my BRT averages have declined), so this should be a “clean test”.
I’m posting my trial and methodology in advance to reduce “reporting bias” that happens when people only post their successes. You can follow along with my (mostly) daily updates here: