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Medical What is your opinion on taking brain-boosting drugs?

  1. Sep 22, 2010 #1
    One of my college professors was talking about brain-boosting drugs and their use in the science world. He seemed to support the idea with a belief that no one in the scientific world will criticize you for making a breakthrough if you used drugs to boost your performance. Unlike the sports world, which is based on a level playing field, the science world supports achieving great things regardless of how you get the results.

    I'm curious what the science community actually thinks about these brain-boosting drugs and their use in school, college, work, and research.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 22, 2010 #2
    Protip: they're called nootropics. :D
  4. Sep 22, 2010 #3
    Makes sense because the only one I know is call Nootropil. Thanks!
  5. Sep 22, 2010 #4


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    Obviously people care to some extent how you get results: otherwise the restrictions on human trial experiments wouldn't exist
  6. Sep 22, 2010 #5
    I dunno... would it make you THAT much cleverer? and anyway isnt it Edison (it is! I checked) or some one who said its 99% hard work and only 1% brains anyway?
    more accurately: 1% inspiration 99% perspiration
  7. Sep 22, 2010 #6
    They boost potential quite a bit. I was going through 150 vocab words in 2 hours every weekend when studying for the SAT on them. Normally it'd be around 50 words a day - TOPS
  8. Sep 22, 2010 #7
    really! do they have any side effects? and what if you take them long term? do they mess your brain up?
  9. Sep 22, 2010 #8
    This is a complex question. In some cases(sports) it's cut-and-dried as a "no-no". In others it is not.
    For example, pharmaceutical amphetamines, were/are still used in the military under certain circumstances. Special Operations Forces personnel and long-range bomber pilots are sometimes given(through approved direction and higher command) amphetamines.

    With regards to the scientific community, though, I would say it's a very hard call.
    Under that circumstance, not only is there usually no sober, professional oversight, but a high propensity for "recreational use/abuse"

    I have mixed feelings on this. It's promise, and it's potential for personal disaster.

    Good question!
  10. Sep 22, 2010 #9
    Some are safer than others but my grandparents take Nootropil on a regular basis to just stay functional. It takes a week or two of daily dosage to have any effect on you at all and there were no withdrawal symptoms when I stopped taking it. I really don't see any downsides to it other than having an unfair advantage when it comes to standardized tests, studying, school, research, etc.. where a level playing field may be important.
  11. Sep 22, 2010 #10


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    You mean they boost the potential to memorise words :rolleyes:
  12. Sep 22, 2010 #11
    Well in my case, that's the only thing I noticed. It's one of those things that you can't particularly put your finger on. I didn't FEEL smarter but I was noticing how I was doing mind-intensive tasks with immense ease.
  13. Sep 22, 2010 #12
    what are the side effects of these drugs ? There is no drug in the world that can enhance your intelligence .These drugs could increase your concentration or your alertness much the same way caffeine does.
  14. Sep 22, 2010 #13
    is this due to the drug or simply increase in your efficiency . when you learn to do a particular work repeatedly the efficiency naturally improves.
  15. Sep 22, 2010 #14
    i hope this is the same drug.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piracetam" [Broken]

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  16. Sep 23, 2010 #15
    This is the major question in my view... take Modafinil for instance, which was expected to be a fantastic replacement for dextroamphetamine for those with apnea or narcolepsy. No side effects were seen until the unfortunate little one that was um... oh yes... psychosis. Oh yes, and it may well be addictive with that little "mood elevation" side effect.

    These systems in the brain are terribly complex and frankly NOT understood. It's a fantastic assumption in my view that any of these drugs, from those that enhance attention, wakefulness, memory, etc... would fail to have unforeseen adverse reactions. When you add the desire for these drugs if they work, it becomes obvious that they are bound to become drugs of abuse, much like the amphetamines used to treat ADHD.

    It may not be "brain damage" due to neurotoxicity, but that doesn't mean they can't "mess you up" as you might put it. The long term effects of amphetamines are not always doom, but they're not often pretty either. The unfortunate fact is however, that we'll have dozens of nootropcis on the market long before their method of action and full extent of their adverse effects will be understood. Neurology, much as it pains me to say it, is still very primitive compared with the complexity of the organ and related systems being explored. BOOSTING that whole system makes fighting depression or seizures look like a cakewalk.

    My advice is: be vewy vewy careful, I'm hunting neurons your endocrine system cardiovascular system, and... you get the idea.
  17. Sep 23, 2010 #16
    we do not know how long the effect of nootropics last. Maybe they have a temporary effect much like caffeine or amphetamines - if u want to further increase your ability u would want to take more.

    There are no long term studies regarding the effect of these drugs on us.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  18. Sep 23, 2010 #17
    The people who use them ARE the first line of the longitudinal studies of their effects... this is the problem.
  19. Sep 23, 2010 #18
    I don't know. But if a scientist insists that he must use or continue to take LSD(for example) in order to eventually crack the "Grand Unification Theory", well, I might have a problem with that.
    Would sound to me that he is more interested in bathing in the emotions of an altered sense of reality than actually figuring-out the answer to the question...
  20. Sep 23, 2010 #19
    It surprises me to see how a lot of people get fooled by drug companies or other people (with less info) into believing that there is a magic pill which will automatically make you smart.

    normal healthy diet and exercise could do the same thing which is more beneficial.
  21. Sep 23, 2010 #20
    randomized control trials have more value specially if we are talking about drugs in the medical field
  22. Sep 23, 2010 #21
    Perhaps not the "same thing" in some circumstances, but CERTAINLY TRUE in most.
    Yes, I like your post. A return to healthy diet and exercise can mean a lot!
  23. Sep 23, 2010 #22
    yeah, its easy to fool us cos we wanna believe it! but I dont think its a good idea to take it even if they find a magical brain-boosting drug - its like cheating! it takes all the sense of achievement out of having discovered something amazing and turns it into guilt and shame.
  24. Sep 23, 2010 #23


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    My point is that memorising words is nothing like research. What might help you with monotonous tasks like this is not likely to make your ability to do research any better!
  25. Sep 23, 2010 #24
    I have not tried piracetam/nootropil. In my opinion, any drug that has no known LD50 is unlikely to have a measurable effect on anything. (there are exceptions, e.g. vitamin C, but those are exceptions rather than the rule.)

    I do take modafinil from time to time, and it's a lifesaver, at least with regard to productivity. As you may know, genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. It's debatable whether it helps with the 1%, but it definitely does with the 99%. I believe its effect is similar to amphetamines (Adderall/Ritalin), but there are fewer side effects, no addiction and no withdrawal. Right now it's almost 3 AM here, I've been up since 8 AM, I haven't had more than 5 hours of sleep the night before, I put in a full day at work, when I got home, I was motivated enough to do some home improvement tasks, cutting drywall & such. I'm still up and I'll probably go read a math textbook now. Combined with some downers (wine), maybe that'll put me to sleep. All that on 200 mg of modafinil 18 hours ago. Without downers, I can easily see myself staying up all night and going to work tomorrow morning, no problem.

    I have not done any double blind studies (obviously, can't do those on myself), but I've seen no evidence of psychosis and it's not addictive for me. I'm 100% in control of whether I'd like to take it or not. I've gone without for months when my stash ran out (I get mine from Fiji and it's fairly expensive).
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2010
  26. Sep 23, 2010 #25
    yes, also they could invent a drug for will power. That would solve our problems:smile:
    It takes more than smart/ intelligence to achieve something.
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