During the last couple of years there has been a silent revolution in the understanding and use of “off label” cognition enhancing prescription drugs, it began with students competing to improve their test scores and has expanded out to busy professors and executives in search of that professional edge. To some it’s an extremely worrying trend and to others it’s mearly a natural progression of medical technology

Cosmetic Neurology?

Last year Nature, the scientific journal published the results of an informal online poll asking whether readers attempted to sharpen “their focus, concentration, or memory” by taking cognition enhancing drugs. One in five respondents said they did. The majority of the 1,400 readers who responded said that healthy adults should be permitted to take brain boosters for non-medical reasons which at the time was an incredibly brave finding for Nature to publish due to the resistance in mainstream society against prescription drug use in healthy people.

The discussion within the Nature article focused on the two main cognition enhancing drugs that are currently being used “off label” by some individuals in the hope of enhancing their performance and they are likely very familiar therapeutics to the majority of you, as they are used for the treatment of ADHD and Insomnia:

  • Adderall
  • Provigil

At the moment those embracing Nootropics, i.e. new chemicals or therapies to enhance their own cognition, are beginning to develop an interest in many of the experimental therapies that are being developed to treat cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s and Dementia which include Ampakines and Cholinesterase inhibitors that have shown some promise within the clinic. We can all connect at least partially with the idea of striving to be better, faster, stronger and the idea of enhancing our own cognitive abilities can be seductive. However, it’s important to remember that our brains are finely balanced biochemical machines and by altering the concentration of certain chemicals and neurotransmitters within a healthy mind we run the risk of unexpected consequences, not least of which could result in classical mental illnesses or new dysfunctions.

For those of you on the bleeding edge of this fascinating Nootropic trend, I wish you the best of luck! Please make sure to tread carefully and let us know your thoughts in the comments section, as Forest Gump once said “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get!” Corny, I know!