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Table 3 Statements of the results of the DFSS as they appeared in the original paper

From: Generating genius: how an Alzheimer’s drug became considered a ‘cognitive enhancer’ for healthy individuals

  Findings of the DFSS
Abstract “After 30 days of treatment, the donepezil group showed greater ability to retain the capacity to perform a set of complex simulator tasks than the placebo group, p 0.05.”
“Donepezil appears to have beneficial effects on retention of training on complex aviation tasks in nondemented older adults.”
Results “After 30 days of treatment, there was a significant difference between the donepezil group (n = 9, mean age 51.2 years) and the placebo group (n = 9, mean age 53.1 years) in flight performance change (F 6.1, p 0.05, effect size 0.58)”
“Overall, flight performance of the pilots in the donepezil group changed little from performance after initial training to 30-day post-treatment (0.06 z-score units; SD 0.31), whereas it declined in pilots in the placebo group (0.24 z-score units; SD 0.19)”
“To help focus the discussion of the likely locus of drug effects, post hoc analyses of flight component difference scores were computed. These scores reflect differences in performance between treatments over the course of treatment. Examination of the figure suggests the largest effects of donepezil were on the emergency scanning (effect size 0.56) and the approach to landing scores (effect size 0.52)”
Discussion “Given the extensive literature on the effects of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors on memory, we were not surprised to find some effects of the drug on ability to retain a practiced skill in pilots”
“Nonetheless, these results are consistent with previous studies in nondemented adults that have reported that cholinesterase inhibitors improve cognitive performance.”
“The association of cholinergic drugs with better attention has lead investigators to suggest that part of the benefit of cholinergic drugs on memory performance may be mediated through attentional components involved in working memory. This suggestion is supported by the current data that show the strongest drug effects on emergency tasks and the approach to landing. The emergency tasks involve visually scanning the instrument panel for aberrant readings. The approach to landing requires sustained divided attention to maintain proper altitude, speed, and heading”