Surprise! Students use drugs. You already knew that. That drugs are being used more and more often to provide intellectual performance than to get rid of your ball, you undoubtedly already knew. Most of the media attention went to the abuse of these smart drugs, as Ritalin and Modafinil medications intended for people with ADHD or narcolepsy – the most popular means were to sanctify the goal. Increasingly, supplements that improve brain capacity over a longer period are also being used. These supplements are grouped under the collective name nootropics, and include reasonably everyday remedies such as ginseng, but also unpronounceable agents such as phenylalanine. Not much is known about the long-term effects.
Piracetam, the first nootropic, was developed in 1964 by the Romanian psychologist and chemist Corneliu E. Giurgea. According to Giurgea, drugs such as piracetam had to meet a number of requirements to belong to the nootropics. For example, the use of such a resource should improve your cognitive skills and concentration, and it should ensure that your information is processed better. Brain doping. This kind of means may not be addictive and not cause intoxication effects (if you get high of it you do something wrong, or very good). Noótropica change the supply of neurochemicals, enzymes and hormones in your brain, which should of course have positive effects.
More everyday nootropics are caffeine and fish oil. The first increases your productivity, the latter gives your brain a big boost, and in combination with each other they are unlikely to be effective. Café au fish oil, someone?
Sean Duke, an American neurofarmaloog specializing in nootropics , refers to its users as “noötnauten” and describes them as the “mental equivalent of bodybuilders”. On various message boards about nootropics, the noo nuts are very obsessed about the optimal doses and combinations. Bragging about your mental muscles also seems to be a favorite activity.
Yet using nootropics to increase brain capacity is not at all new. In the 1950s, Great Britain and the United States experimented with “mind-expanding” technologies for military purposes. During the MKUltra project, one of the scariest forms of occupational therapy within the CIA, the effects of psychotropic drugs, shock therapy and hypnosis were tested on both voluntary and not so voluntary participants. For example, the scientists tried to get their subjects to endure torture better and were hoping for an “increase in the efficiency of mind and perception”. The experiments, which had the goal of exercising control over the human mind, were found to produce opposite effects.