Are Nootropics Really Able To Make You Smarter?

Jul 8 10:33 2011 David Brains Print This Article

In a society in which neuroscience is ever-developing, the opportunities to exploit knowledge related to brain science is everywhere. Cognitive enhancement through the utilization of brain supplements is a prime example of this. As enhancing your brain by popping pills is becoming more and more accepted though, questions will be raised regarding the functioning, safety and ethics of such nootropics.

The human brain is one of the most intriguing research objects in the history of mankind. Consisting of billions of nerve cells,Guest Posting the brain and its mysteries have been fascinating scientists for thousands of years.

Yet many of these mysteries are now being revealed as scientific progress increases rapidly and many of the most complex aspects of human life are now being linked to neural mechanisms by researchers all over the world. Nonetheless, our knowledge of many cognitive processes is still incomplete as the brain and its related features have proven to be incredibly complex, and it has become clear that technology still needs to improve significantly before a complete understanding can be gained.

Still, the increasing knowledge of cognitive functioning has already given rise to various opportunities in different areas. Including one that is being exploited by various commercial organizations in the form of brain supplements, also called smart drugs or cognitive enhancers. It is now claimed that nootropics can enhance all sorts of cognitive functions, ranging from improving memory and increasing learning performance, to more creativity and less anxiety (Malik et al. 2007).

At first sight, the potential of these brain supplements seems amazing; difficult exams coming up? Pop a pill and the A’s will come effortlessly! Yet this short-sighted approach might bring some risks, especially when considering that the whole cognitive enhancers concept is still in its’ infancy, which means that in many cases the safety of using these cognitive enhancers has not yet been strictly determined.

But for starters, let’s first have a quick look at the actual mechanisms itself that cognitive enhancers manipulate to possibly give rise to these wild claims of neural enhancement. This is best done by looking at some examples, as there are many types of nootropics specifically designed for different purposes.

Take a cognitive enhancer designed to improve memory; to do so, the specific pill could target various mechanisms. To illustrate, the concentration of acetylcholine (ACh) in the brain could be increased in several ways, based on the knowledge that ACh plays a crucial role in memory formation. Moreover, one could target an entirely different pathway; e.g. by increasing the concentration of CREB, a molecule that plays an intrinsic part in changing the structure of synapses and thus inducing synaptic plasticity, which is the key to long-term memory formation.

Keeping in mind that these are only specific examples in a wide range of options to enhance memory formation, it becomes clear that the potential and diversity of cognitive enhancers is enormous. Now there are some things to take into consideration before you run to the nearest pharmacy to order a 2-year supply of cognitive enhancers to transform yourself into the new Einstein. First of all, companies selling smart drugs usually have just one purpose: MAKING PROFIT. Secondly, companies are allowed to make claims about their products that are absolutely rubbish!

These two factors combined warrant a careful approach when it comes to making decisions regarding nootropics. The best option at the moment seems to be to conduct careful research on a potential product, which, for example, can be done by reading customer reviews Moreover, for the moralists among us, the development of smart drugs has spawned various social and ethical issues.

All in all, cognitive enhancers seem to have great potential IF the issues regarding safety and regulations can be overcome. Nonetheless, when this is accomplished the world might see a sudden increase in the number of Einsteins walking around quite soon!

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David Brains
David Brains

We live in the golden age of neuroscience. For this reason, David Brains writes on a blog about everything related to brain science. Various topics are covered ranging from brain supplements to the latest neuro-technology

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