There are over a thousand websites and hundreds of reference guides chock full of complicated methods for combining many of the compounds you’ve just discovered. There’s a reason for this: the practice of “stacking” nootropics and smart drugs into specific combinations can be far more powerful and efficacious than consuming a single, lonely compound in isolation. For example, dosing choline sources with your morning coffee can make your brain feel fresh for hours or mixing curcumin with black pepper can dramatically amp up the neural anti-inflammatory effects of both compounds. Ultimately, a teaspoon of lion’s mane extract just isn’t as titillating as lion’s mane blended with caffeine, theanine, nicotine and a touch of vinpocetine.
The hormone testosterone (Examine.com; FDA adverse events) needs no introduction. This is one of the scariest substances I have considered using: it affects so many bodily systems in so many ways that it seems almost impossible to come up with a net summary, either positive or negative. With testosterone, the problem is not the usual nootropics problem that that there is a lack of human research, the problem is that the summary constitutes a textbook - or two. That said, the 2011 review The role of testosterone in social interaction (excerpts) gives me the impression that testosterone does indeed play into risk-taking, motivation, and social status-seeking; some useful links and a representative anecdote:
Omega-3 fatty acids—DHA in particular—contribute to a healthy brain. “The brain’s membranes use these fats to improve cellular structure and brain signaling, which translates into better cognitive function,” says Vasanti Malik, ScD, a research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. DHA also quells chronic inflammation that can harm brain cells and lead to cognitive decline.

Most of the most solid fish oil results seem to meliorate the effects of age; in my 20s, I’m not sure they are worth the cost. But I would probably resume fish oil in my 30s or 40s when aging really becomes a concern. So the experiment at most will result in discontinuing for a decade. At $X a year, that’s a net present value of sum $ map (\n -> 70 / (1 + 0.05)^n) [1..10] = $540.5.

Using neuroenhancers, Seltzer said, "is like customising yourself - customising your brain". For some people, he added, it was important to enhance their mood, so they took antidepressants; but for people like him it was more important "to increase mental horsepower". He said: "It's fundamentally a choice you're making about how you want to experience consciousness." Whereas the 1990s had been about "the personalisation of technology", this decade was about the personalisation of the brain - what some enthusiasts have begun to call "mind hacking".


Farah told me: "These drugs will definitely help some technically normal people - that is, people who don't meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD or any kind of cognitive impairment." But, she emphasised, "They will help people in the lower end of the ability range more than in the higher end." One explanation for this phenomenon might be that the more adept you are at a given task, the less room you have to improve. Farah has a hunch that there may be another reason that existing drugs - so far, at least - don't offer as much help to people with greater intellectual abilities. Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall work in part by elevating the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is something you want just enough of: too little, and you may not be as alert and motivated as you need to be; too much, and you may feel overstimulated. Neuroscientists have discovered that some people have a gene that leads the brain to break down dopamine faster, leaving less of it available; such people are generally a little worse at certain cognitive tasks. People with more available dopamine are generally somewhat better at the same tasks. It makes sense, then, that people with naturally low dopamine would benefit more from an artificial boost.

Phillips told me that, much as he believes in neuroenhancers, he did not want to be "the poster boy for smart-in-a-pill". At one point, he said: "We really don't know the possible implications for long-term use of these things." (He recently stopped taking Provigil every day, replacing it with another prescription stimulant.) Nor does he think we need to be turning up the crank another notch on how hard we work. "But," he said, "the baseline competitive level is going to reorientate around what these drugs make possible, and you can choose to compete or not."
Blueberries. "Brainberries" is what Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods Proven to Change Your Life, calls these tasty fruits. Pratt, who is also on staff at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., says that in animal studies researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Studies have also shown that diets rich in blueberries significantly improved both the learning capacity and motor skills of aging rats, making them mentally equivalent to much younger rats. Ann Kulze, MD, author of Dr. Ann's 10-Step Diet: A Simple Plan for Permanent Weight Loss & Lifelong Vitality, recommends adding at least 1 cup of blueberries a day in any form -- fresh, frozen, or freeze-dried.

along with the previous bit of globalization is an important factor: shipping is ridiculously cheap. The most expensive S&H in my modafinil price table is ~$15 (and most are international). To put this in perspective, I remember in the 90s you could easily pay $15 for domestic S&H when you ordered online - but it’s 2013, and the dollar has lost at least half its value, so in real terms, ordering from abroad may be like a quarter of what it used to cost, which makes a big difference to people dipping their toes in and contemplating a small order to try out this ’nootropics thing they’ve heard about.
Jump up ^ Weyandt LL, Oster DR, Marraccini ME, Gudmundsdottir BG, Munro BA, Zavras BM, Kuhar B (September 2014). "Pharmacological interventions for adolescents and adults with ADHD: stimulant and nonstimulant medications and misuse of prescription stimulants". Psychol. Res. Behav. Manag. 7: 223–249. doi:10.2147/PRBM.S47013. PMC 4164338. PMID 25228824.
Bacopa is a supplement herb often used for memory or stress adaptation. Its chronic effects reportedly take many weeks to manifest, with no important acute effects. Out of curiosity, I bought 2 bottles of Bacognize Bacopa pills and ran a non-randomized non-blinded ABABA quasi-self-experiment from June 2014 to September 2015, measuring effects on my memory performance, sleep, and daily self-ratings of mood/productivity. Because of the very slow onset, small effective sample size, definite temporal trends probably unrelated to Bacopa, and noise in the variables, the results were as expected, ambiguous, and do not strongly support any correlation between Bacopa and memory/sleep/self-rating (+/-/- respectively).
If all of this sounds great to you, get ready to level up your brain to game like a god with GodMode. Unless, you know, you're under 18, pregnant, potentially have any pre-existing medical conditions, are taking any prescription medications, are otherwise ingesting caffeine or taking other stimulants, or you don't want to drop $60 on gamer pills. Then, you know, don't.
I can test fish oil for mood, since the other claimed benefits like anti-schizophrenia are too hard to test. The medical student trial (Kiecolt-Glaser et al 2011) did not see changes until visit 3, after 3 weeks of supplementation. (Visit 1, 3 weeks, visit 2, supplementation started for 3 weeks, visit 3, supplementation continued 3 weeks, visit 4 etc.) There were no tests in between the test starting week 1 and starting week 3, so I can’t pin it down any further. This suggests randomizing in 2 or 3 week blocks. (For an explanation of blocking, see the footnote in the Zeo page.)
1. Stough, C., Lloyd, J., Clarke, J., Downey, L. A., Hutchison, C. W., Rodgers, T., & Nathan, P. J. (2001). The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 156(4), 481-484. 2. Ishaque, S., Shamseer, L., Bukutu, C., & Vohra, S. (2012). Rhodiola rosea for physical and mental fatigue: a systematic review. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 12(1), 70. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-703. Pase, M. P., Kean, J., Sarris, J., Neale, C., Scholey, A. B., & Stough, C. (2012). The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. J Altern Complement Med, 18(7), 647-652. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.03674. Raghav, S., Singh, H., Dalal, P. K., Srivastava, J. S., & Asthana, O. P. (2006). Randomized controlled trial of standardized Bacopa monniera extract in age-associated memory impairment. Indian J Psychiatry, 48(4), 238-242. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.315555. Neale, C., Camfield, D., Reay, J., Stough, C., & Scholey, A. (2013). Cognitive effects of two nutraceuticals Ginseng and Bacopa [...]: a review and comparison of effect sizes. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75(3), 728-737. doi:10.1111/bcp.120026. Prynne, C. J., Thane, C. W., Prentice, A., & Wadsworth, M. E. (2005). Intake and sources of phylloquinone (vitamin K(1)) in 4-year-old British children: comparison between 1950 and the 1990s. Public Health Nutr, 8(2), 171-180.7. Ferland, G. (2012). Vitamin K and the nervous system: an overview of its actions. Adv Nutr, 3(2), 204-212. doi:10.3945/an.111.0017848. Zeidan, Y. H., & Hannun, Y. A. (2007). Translational aspects of sphingolipid metabolism. Trends in molecular medicine, 13(8), 327-336.9. Beulens, J. W., Bots, M. L., Atsma, F., Bartelink, M. L., Prokop, M., Geleijnse, J. M., . . . van der Schouw, Y. T. (2009). High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification. Atherosclerosis, 203(2), 489-493. doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.07.01010. Geleijnse, J. M., Vermeer, C., Grobbee, D. E., Schurgers, L. J., Knapen, M. H., van der Meer, I. M., . . . Witteman, J. C. (2004). Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: the Rotterdam Study. J Nutr, 134(11), 3100-3105.11. Theuwissen, E., Magdeleyns, E. J., Braam, L. A., Teunissen, K. J., Knapen, M. H., Binnekamp, I. A., . . . Vermeer, C. (2014). Vitamin K status in healthy volunteers. Food Funct, 5(2), 229-234. doi:10.1039/c3fo60464k12. Barros, M. P., Poppe, S. C., & Bondan, E. F. (2014). Neuroprotective properties of the marine carotenoid astaxanthin and omega-3 fatty acids, and perspectives for the natural combination of both in krill oil. Nutrients, 6(3), 1293-1317.13. Pashkow, F. J., Watumull, D. G., & Campbell, C. L. (2008). Astaxanthin: a novel potential treatment for oxidative stress and inflammation in cardiovascular disease. Am J Cardiol, 101(10a), 58d-68d. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.02.01014. Annweiler, C., Schott, A. M., Berrut, G., Chauvire, V., Le Gall, D., Inzitari, M., & Beauchet, O. (2010). Vitamin D and ageing: neurological issues. Neuropsychobiology, 62(3), 139-150. doi:10.1159/00031857015. Brown, J., Bianco, J. I., McGrath, J. J., & Eyles, D. W. (2003). 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 induces nerve growth factor, promotes neurite outgrowth and inhibits mitosis in embryonic rat hippocampal neurons. Neurosci Lett, 343(2), 139-143.16. Naveilhan, P., Neveu, I., Wion, D., & Brachet, P. (1996). 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3, an inducer of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor. Neuroreport, 7(13), 2171-2175.17. Tangpricha, V., Pearce, E. N., Chen, T. C., & Holick, M. F. (2002). Vitamin D insufficiency among free-living healthy young adults. Am J Med, 112(8), 659-662.18. Annweiler, C., Allali, G., Allain, P., Bridenbaugh, S., Schott, A. M., Kressig, R. W., & Beauchet, O. (2009). Vitamin D and cognitive performance in adults: a systematic review. European Journal of Neurology, 16(10), 1083-1089. doi:10.1111/j.1468-1331.2009.02755.x19. Annweiler, C., Montero-Odasso, M., Llewellyn, D. J., Richard-Devantoy, S., Duque, G., & Beauchet, O. (2013). Meta-analysis of memory and executive dysfunctions in relation to vitamin D. J Alzheimers Dis, 37(1), 147-171. doi:10.3233/jad-13045220. Balion, C., Griffith, L. E., Strifler, L., Henderson, M., Patterson, C., Heckman, G., . . . Raina, P. (2012). Vitamin D, cognition, and dementia A systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurology, 79(13), 1397-1405.21. Dean, A. J., Bellgrove, M. A., Hall, T., Phan, W. M. J., Eyles, D. W., Kvaskoff, D., & McGrath, J. J. (2011). Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Cognitive and Emotional Functioning in Young Adults – A Randomised Controlled Trial. PLoS One, 6(11), e25966. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.002596622. Etgen, T., Sander, D., Bickel, H., Sander, K., & Forstl, H. (2012). Vitamin D deficiency, cognitive impairment and dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord, 33(5), 297-305. doi:10.1159/00033970223. Fontani, G., Corradeschi, F., Felici, A., Alfatti, F., Migliorini, S., & Lodi, L. (2005). Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Invest, 35(11), 691-699. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2362.2005.01570.x24. Huhn, S., Masouleh, S. K., Stumvoll, M., Villringer, A., & Witte, A. V. (2015). Components of a Mediterranean diet and their impact on cognitive functions in aging. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 7.25. Bradbury, J. (2011). Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA): An Ancient Nutrient for the Modern Human Brain. Nutrients, 3(5), 529-554. doi:10.3390/nu305052926. Einother, S. J., & Giesbrecht, T. (2013). Caffeine as an attention enhancer: reviewing existing assumptions. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 225(2), 251-274. doi:10.1007/s00213-012-2917-427. Johnson, L. C., Spinweber, C. L., & Gomez, S. A. (1990). Benzodiazepines and caffeine: effect on daytime sleepiness, performance, and mood. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 101(2), 160-167. 28. Smith, A., Kendrick, A., Maben, A., & Salmon, J. (1994). Effects of breakfast and caffeine on cognitive performance, mood and cardiovascular functioning. Appetite, 22(1), 39-55. doi:10.1006/appe.1994.100429. Smith, A. P., Kendrick, A. M., & Maben, A. L. (1992). Effects of breakfast and caffeine on performance and mood in the late morning and after lunch. Neuropsychobiology, 26(4), 198-204. doi:11892030. Smith, B. D., Davidson, R. A., & Green, R. L. (1993). Effects of caffeine and gender on physiology and performance: further tests of a biobehavioral model. Physiol Behav, 54(3), 415-422. 31. Warburton, D. M. (1995). Effects of caffeine on cognition and mood without caffeine abstinence. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 119(1), 66-70. 32. Wilhelmus, M. M., Hay, J. L., Zuiker, R. G., Okkerse, P., Perdrieu, C., Sauser, J., . . . Silber, B. Y. (2017). Effects of a single, oral 60 mg caffeine dose on attention in healthy adult subjects. J Psychopharmacol, 31(2), 222-232. doi:10.1177/026988111666859333. Fredholm, B. B., Battig, K., Holmen, J., Nehlig, A., & Zvartau, E. E. (1999). Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacol Rev, 51(1), 83-133. 34. Borzelleca, J. F., Peters, D., & Hall, W. (2006). A 13-week dietary toxicity and toxicokinetic study with l-theanine in rats. Food Chem Toxicol, 44(7), 1158-1166. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2006.03.01435. Kimura, K., Ozeki, M., Juneja, L. R., & Ohira, H. (2007). L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol, 74(1), 39-45. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2006.06.00636. Tian, X., Sun, L., Gou, L., Ling, X., Feng, Y., Wang, L., . . . Liu, Y. (2013). Protective effect of l-theanine on chronic restraint stress-induced cognitive impairments in mice. Brain Res, 1503, 24-32. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2013.01.04837. Unno, K., Fujitani, K., Takamori, N., Takabayashi, F., Maeda, K., Miyazaki, H., . . . Hoshino, M. (2011). Theanine intake improves the shortened lifespan, cognitive dysfunction and behavioural depression that are induced by chronic psychosocial stress in mice. Free Radic Res, 45(8), 966-974. doi:10.3109/10715762.2011.56686938. Unno, K., Tanida, N., Ishii, N., Yamamoto, H., Iguchi, K., Hoshino, M., . . . Yamada, H. (2013). Anti-stress effect of theanine on students during pharmacy practice: positive correlation among salivary alpha-amylase activity, trait anxiety and subjective stress. Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 111, 128-135. doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2013.09.00439. Dodd, F. L., Kennedy, D. O., Riby, L. M., & Haskell-Ramsay, C. F. (2015a). A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of caffeine and L-theanine both alone and in combination on cerebral blood flow, cognition and mood. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 232(14), 2563-2576. doi:10.1007/s00213-015-3895-040. Rogers, P. J., Smith, J. E., Heatherley, S. V., & Pleydell-Pearce, C. W. (2008). Time for tea: mood, blood pressure and cognitive performance effects of caffeine and theanine administered alone and together. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 195(4), 569-577. doi:10.1007/s00213-007-0938-141. Foxe, J. J., Morie, K. P., Laud, P. J., Rowson, M. J., de Bruin, E. A., & Kelly, S. P. (2012). Assessing the effects of caffeine and theanine on the maintenance of vigilance during a sustained attention task. Neuropharmacology, 62(7), 2320-2327. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2012.01.02042. Giesbrecht, T., Rycroft, J. A., Rowson, M. J., & De Bruin, E. A. (2010). The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutr Neurosci, 13(6), 283-290. doi:10.1179/147683010x1261146076484043. Haskell, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Milne, A. L., Wesnes, K. A., & Scholey, A. B. (2008). The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biol Psychol, 77(2), 113-122. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2007.09.00844. Kahathuduwa, C. N., Dassanayake, T. L., Amarakoon, A. M., & Weerasinghe, V. S. (2016). Acute effects of theanine, caffeine and theanine-caffeine combination on attention. Nutr Neurosci. doi:10.1080/1028415x.2016.114484545. Owen, G. N., Parnell, H., De Bruin, E. A., & Rycroft, J. A. (2008). The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutr Neurosci, 11(4), 193-198. doi:10.1179/147683008x30151346. Einother, S. J., Martens, V. E., Rycroft, J. A., & De Bruin, E. A. (2010). L-theanine and caffeine improve task switching but not intersensory attention or subjective alertness. Appetite, 54(2), 406-409. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2010.01.00347. Deijen, J. B., van der Beek, E. J., Orlebeke, J. F., & van den Berg, H. (1992). Vitamin B-6 supplementation in elderly men: effects on mood, memory, performance and mental effort. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 109(4), 489-496.48. Lewerin, C., Matousek, M., Steen, G., Johansson, B., Steen, B., & Nilsson-Ehle, H. (2005). Significant correlations of plasma homocysteine and serum methylmalonic acid with movement and cognitive performance in elderly subjects but no improvement from short-term vitamin therapy: a placebo-controlled randomized study. Am J Clin Nutr, 81(5), 1155-1162. 49. Bryan, J., Calvaresi, E., & Hughes, D. (2002). Short-term folate, vitamin B-12 or vitamin B-6 supplementation slightly affects memory performance but not mood in women of various ages. J Nutr, 132(6), 1345-1356. 50. Schneider, Z., & Stroinski, A. (1987). Comprehensive B12: chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition, ecology, medicine: Walter de Gruyter.51. Polich, J., & Gloria, R. (2001). Cognitive effects of a Ginkgo biloba/vinpocetine compound in normal adults: systematic assessment of perception, attention and memory. Hum Psychopharmacol, 16(5), 409-416. doi:10.1002/hup.30852. Subhan, Z., & Hindmarch, I. (1985). Psychopharmacological effects of vinpocetine in normal healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 28(5), 567-571. 53. Dollins, A. B., Krock, L. P., Storm, W. F., Wurtman, R. J., & Lieberman, H. R. (1995). L-tyrosine ameliorates some effects of lower body negative pressure stress. Physiol Behav, 57(2), 223-230. 54. Shurtleff, D., Thomas, J. R., Schrot, J., Kowalski, K., & Harford, R. (1994). Tyrosine reverses a cold-induced working memory deficit in humans. Pharmacol Biochem Behav, 47(4), 935-941. 55. Brzezinski, A., Vangel, M. G., Wurtman, R. J., Norrie, G., Zhdanova, I., Ben-Shushan, A., & Ford, I. (2005). Effects of exogenous melatonin on sleep: a meta-analysis. Sleep Med Rev, 9(1), 41-50. 56. Ferracioli-Oda, E., Qawasmi, A., & Bloch, M. H. (2013). Meta-Analysis: Melatonin for the Treatment of Primary Sleep Disorders. PLoS One, 8(5), e63773. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.006377357. Inagawa, K., Hiraoka, T., Kohda, T., Yamadera, W., & Takahashi, M. (2006). Subjective effects of glycine ingestion before bedtime on sleep quality. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 4(1), 75-77. doi:10.1111/j.1479-8425.2006.00193.x58. Bannai, M., Kawai, N., Ono, K., Nakahara, K., & Murakami, N. (2012). The Effects of Glycine on Subjective Daytime Performance in Partially Sleep-Restricted Healthy Volunteers. Front Neurol, 3, 61. doi:10.3389/fneur.2012.0006159. Yamadera, W., Inagawa, K., Chiba, S., Bannai, M., Takahashi, M., & Nakayama, K. (2007). Glycine ingestion improves subjective sleep quality in human volunteers, correlating with polysomnographic changes. Sleep and Biological Rhythms, 5(2), 126-131. doi:10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x60. Tuli, H. S., Kashyap, D., Sharma, A. K., & Sandhu, S. S. (2015). Molecular aspects of melatonin (MLT)-mediated therapeutic effects. Life Sci, 135, 147-157. doi:10.1016/j.lfs.2015.06.00461. Herxheimer, A., & Petrie, K. J. (2002). Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of jet lag. Cochrane Database Syst Rev(2), Cd001520. doi:10.1002/14651858.cd00152062. Deng, X., Song, Y., Manson, J. E., Signorello, L. B., Zhang, S. M., Shrubsole, M. J., . . . Dai, Q. (2013). Magnesium, vitamin D status and mortality: results from US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001 to 2006 and NHANES III. BMC Med, 11(1), 187. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-18763. Murck, H., & Steiger, A. (1998). Mg2+ reduces ACTH secretion and enhances spindle power without changing delta power during sleep in men -- possible therapeutic implications. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 137(3), 247-252. 64. Nielsen, F. H., Johnson, L. K., & Zeng, H. (2010). Magnesium supplementation improves indicators of low magnesium status and inflammatory stress in adults older than 51 years with poor quality sleep. Magnes Res, 23(4), 158-168. doi:10.1684/mrh.2010.0220
A fancier method of imputation would be multiple imputation using, for example, the R library mice (Multivariate Imputation by Chained Equations) (guide), which will try to impute all missing values in a way which mimicks the internal structure of the data and provide several possible datasets to give us an idea of what the underlying data might have looked like, so we can see how our estimates improve with no missingness & how much of the estimate is now due to the imputation:
I had tried 8 randomized days like the Adderall experiment to see whether I was one of the people whom modafinil energizes during the day. (The other way to use it is to skip sleep, which is my preferred use.) I rarely use it during the day since my initial uses did not impress me subjectively. The experiment was not my best - while it was double-blind randomized, the measurements were subjective, and not a good measure of mental functioning like dual n-back (DNB) scores which I could statistically compare from day to day or against my many previous days of dual n-back scores. Between my high expectation of finding the null result, the poor experiment quality, and the minimal effect it had (eliminating an already rare use), the value of this information was very small.
Starting from the studies in my meta-analysis, we can try to estimate an upper bound on how big any effect would be, if it actually existed. One of the most promising null results, Southon et al 1994, turns out to be not very informative: if we punch in the number of kids, we find that they needed a large effect size (d=0.81) before they could see anything:
I don’t believe there’s any need to control for training with repeated within-subject sampling, since there will be as many samples on both control and active days drawn from the later trained period as with the initial untrained period. But yes, my D5B scores seem to have plateaued pretty much and only very slowly increase; you can look at the stats file yourself.
Working memory has been likened to a mental scratch pad: you use it to keep relevant data in mind while you're completing a task. (Imagine a cross-examination, in which a lawyer has to keep track of the answers a witness has given and formulate new questions based on them.) In one common test subjects are shown a series of items - usually letters or numbers - and then presented with challenges: was this number or letter in the series? Was this one? In the working-memory tests, subjects performed better on neuroenhancers, though several of the studies suggested that the effect depended on how good a subject's working memory was to begin with: the better it was, the less benefit the drugs provided.
The general cost of fish oil made me interested in possible substitutes. Seth Roberts uses exclusively flaxseed oil or flaxseed meal, and this seems to work well for him with subjective effects (eg. noticing his Chinese brands seemed to not work, possibly because they were unrefrigerated and slightly rancid). It’s been studied much less than fish oil, but omega acids are confusing enough in general (is there a right ratio? McCluskey’s roundup gives the impression claims about ratios may have been overstated) that I’m not convinced ALA is a much inferior replacement for fish oil’s mixes of EPA & DHA.

She reveals where she went astray. In a lecture she gave, she lamented the failure of science to offer a cure for Alzheimer’s or even an effective treatment. Someone in the audience asked, “How about olive oil?” She realized she didn’t know anything about the effects of nutrition on Alzheimer’s. She seems to have assumed that diet must be crucially important, and for some reason instead of studying conventional nutrition science, she got a degree in Holistic Nutrition. She bills herself as a certified Integrative Nutritionist and holistic healthcare practitioner. I couldn’t find where she studied, but Stephen Barrett has criticized the Institute for Integrative Nutrition on Quackwatch. Its training is not based on scientific nutrition. It seems most programs in Integrative Nutrition are 6- to 8-month correspondence courses with no prerequisites. I wonder what she was taught.

Lost confidence.  If you can’t find your keys, much less get through your workday in a timely fashion without a slew of mistakes, you are going to lose confidence in both your brain and yourself.  When you cannot remember where you put things and it takes an absurd amount of effort just to do a simple task, you might question your very sanity.  As your confidence continues to nose-dive, you just end up making more and more mistakes.  It turns into a vicious cycle.
Research does not support that drugs like Ritalin help students do well in school. Studies show that prescription stimulants do not help to improve learning or thinking in those who do not actually have ADHD. Further, research reveals that students who abuse prescription stimulants have lower GPAs than students who do not abuse the drugs.[14] Although Ritalin improves concentration, this effect is largely misunderstood among non-prescribed users. These illicit users mistakenly believe that they can use a drug out of its prescribed context, thinking they can reap the benefits intended for legitimate users.
Like everything else in your body, the brain cannot work without energy. The ability to concentrate and focus comes from an adequate, steady supply of energy - in the form of glucose in our blood to the brain. Achieve this by choosing wholegrains with a low-GI, which release glucose slowly into the bloodstream, keeping you mentally alert throughout the day. Opt for 'brown' wholegrain cereals, granary bread, rice and pasta.
Take the synthetic nootropic piracetam, for example. Since piracetam has been shown to improve cell membrane function and cause a host of neuroprotective effects, when combined with other cell membrane stabilizing supplements such as choline and DHA, the brain cells on piracetam can better signal and relay messages to each other for a longer period of time, which improves cognition and brain activity and decreases risk of a crash. So one example of an intelligent “stack” is piracetam taken with choline and DHA.
It looks like the overall picture is that nicotine is absorbed well in the intestines and the colon, but not so well in the stomach; this might be the explanation for the lack of effect, except on the other hand, the specific estimates I see are that 10-20% of the nicotine will be bioavailable in the stomach (as compared to 50%+ for mouth or lungs)… so any of my doses of >5ml should have overcome the poorer bioavailability! But on the gripping hand, these papers are mentioning something about the liver metabolizing nicotine when absorbed through the stomach, so…

Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, has written sceptically about cosmetic neurology. In a 2004 essay he notes that at least once a year in his private practice he sees a young person - usually a boy - whose parents worry that his school performance could be better and want a medication that will assure it. In most of these cases "the truth is that the son does not have the superior IQ of his parents", though the boy may have other qualities that surpass those of his parents - he may be "handsome, charming, athletic, graceful". McHugh sees his job as trying to get the parents to "forget about adjusting him to their aims, with medication or anything else".

Whether you want to optimise your nutrition during exam season or simply want to stay sharp in your next work meeting, paying attention to your diet can really pay off. Although there is no single 'brain food' that can protect against age-related disorders such as Alzheimers' or dementia, and there are many other medical conditions that can affect the brain, paying attention to what you eat gives you the best chance of getting all the nutrients you need for cognitive health.


Working memory has been likened to a mental scratch pad: you use it to keep relevant data in mind while you're completing a task. (Imagine a cross-examination, in which a lawyer has to keep track of the answers a witness has given and formulate new questions based on them.) In one common test subjects are shown a series of items - usually letters or numbers - and then presented with challenges: was this number or letter in the series? Was this one? In the working-memory tests, subjects performed better on neuroenhancers, though several of the studies suggested that the effect depended on how good a subject's working memory was to begin with: the better it was, the less benefit the drugs provided.
This is a small water plant native to India. Bacopa is an adaptogen – it helps your body adapt to stress. It also improves memory in healthy adults[12] and enhances attention and mood in people over 65. [13] Scientists still don’t fully understand how Bacopa works, but they do know it takes time to work; study participants didn’t feel its memory-enhancing effects until they’d been supplementing with it daily for 4 weeks, so if you try Bacopa, stick with it for a month before you give up on it.
Of course learning, working memory and cognitive control represent just a few aspects of thinking. Farah concluded that studies looking at other kinds of cognition - verbal fluency, for instance - were too few and too contradictory to tell us much. Both Chatterjee and Farah have wondered whether drugs that heighten users' focus might dampen their creativity. After all, some of our best ideas come to us not when we sit down at a desk but rather when we're in the shower or walking the dog - letting our minds roam. Jimi Hendrix reported that the inspiration for "Purple Haze" came to him in a dream; the chemist Friedrich August Kekule claimed that he discovered the ring structure of benzene during a reverie in which he saw the image of a snake biting its tail. Farah told me: "There is some evidence that suggests that individuals who are better able to focus on one thing and filter out distractions tend to be less creative.
There's no magic bullet to boost IQ or make you smarter -- but certain substances, like caffeine, can energize you and help you concentrate. Found in coffee, chocolate, energy drinks, and some medications, caffeine gives you that unmistakable wake-up buzz, though the effects are short-term. And more is often less: Overdo it on caffeine and it can make you jittery and uncomfortable.

Choosing to take smart drugs is not an effective or long term solution. Smart drugs may help you study faster or keep you awake longer, but they are not your best option. Most of the ADHD medications are based on an amphetamine structure and they are not healthy for your heart or your liver. Also, by taking smart drugs, you are putting yourself at considerable risk for addiction to these substances.

[…] The verdict is out on brain health and aging. Scientists now know that memory loss and cognitive decline are not an inevitable part of growing older. In fact, the research proves quite the contrary. You can keep your mind sharp well into old age with a strategy that combines a healthy, active lifestyle with a brain-protecting diet and brain-boosting supplements. […]
And if you obtain your vitamin C from a multivitamin, you receive other key nutrients that many studies over the years have linked to healthy brain function, including beta carotene, iron, zinc, B12 and folic acid. In the June 1999 issue of the Journal of Biology and Psychiatry, for instance, researchers at Sweden's Gotenborg University reported that older people were more likely to score poorly on word memory tests if they had low levels of folic acid.
Before taking any supplement or chemical, people want to know if there will be long term effects or consequences, When Dr. Corneliu Giurgea first authored the term “nootropics” in 1972, he also outlined the characteristics that define nootropics. Besides the ability to benefit memory and support the cognitive processes, Dr. Giurgea believed that nootropics should be safe and non-toxic.
×