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Science’s obsession: The search for a “smart pill”

Startled awake by the ringing of a telephone while lying in a bed in the French Quarter, a block from Bourbon Street, I found myself momentarily forgetting where I was and why I was there. Too many meetings, too many scientists. Reaching for the phone, I remembered: New Orleans. The twenty-second annual Neuropharma­cology Conference — this year’s theme, “Cognitive Enhancers.” All the top “smart-pill” researchers would be there.

“This is your wakeup call,” said the automated voice on the phone.