College or School
Faculty Research Advisor
Second Faculty Research Advisor
The term nootropic has overshot its scientific origin and become trendy for dietary supplements. The labels make extraordinary claims: better memory, more focus, improved mood! Is it marketing fluff or is there a scientific basis for these claims? The purpose of this independent study was to examine the origin of the nootropic concept and review the research with a focus on substance abuse. The concept followed the synthesis of Piracetam in the late 1960s. Researchers concluded that Piracetam was novel enough to warrant a new category of psychotropic drug. Piracetam does improve memory, learning, and it can prevent age-related memory loss. In the context of substance abuse, studies show that Piracetam can reduce the symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal and restore cognitive function lost to long-term alcohol abuse. Studies of Modafinil have provided evidence for a reduction in stimulant dependency and improvement of cognitive function. More recent study has shown that Modafinil can reduce opiate-seeking in those addicted to opioids. The science behind cognitive supplements warrants careful consideration. Marketing seeks to co-opt scientific jargon for sales which overshadows the significance of this research. Nootropics are in dire need of further research and a more clinical approach that eschews consumer trends.
Mercer, Adam, "Nootropics & Substance Abuse" (2018). Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) Student Presentations. 412.