Performance enhancement at the cost of potential brain plasticity (nootropic study)


Thought some here would find this interesting. Came through my twitter feed today and I have not seen it posted yet.


Interesting, but majorly tl;dr. It seems to cover quite a few of the common ones, but I noticed that noopept wasn’t even mentioned. I’d be interested in seeing more on this, though hopefully broken up into smaller chunks.


Study only refers to the strong stimulant class drugs fighting against the maturation mechanisms of juvenile brains, particularly the pre-frontal cortex (arguably the most important). Generalized performance enhancement through hard work, good nutrition, non-stimulant supplementation are not even discussed in this literature review.

For a healthy adult, these areas are fully developed so you should see no loss in plasticity, especially if stimulants are used sparingly. It isn’t exactly super healthy to be on stimulants anyways, it depletes a lot of necessary neurotransmitters and makes it hard for the brain to do everything it needs to.


Most noots don’t necessarily deplete neurotransmitters, but they definitely change the uptake cycle. If you supplement choline alongside most nootropics, then your brain has the catalyst necessary to reuse neurotransmitters effectively. That’s why choline by itself can have a positive nootropic effect on deficient diets, and that’s why you’ll see it in almost every stack. It’s very important to a balanced stack.

Some racetams are known to be ampakines , which are covered by this article. Noopept also appears to be an ampakine.

I don’t necessarily buy into their caveats, because they’re assuming a runaway train of plasticity that starts overriding the foundational patterns our brain has learned, like colors, tastes, emotions, and so on. They’re looking at the brain as a monolithic system, which it is not. They’re treating it as a black box, without taking into account the metabolic pathways and so on that we do already know.


I was referring primarily to stimulants, I have a wide nootropics regiment which contains ample amounts of choline myself.

As to the racetams, yes they are known to effect the AMPA receptors, but not nearly as strongly as actual ampakines do.

The article, like many written today, seems to be written with the results in mind seeking funding for research, instead of seeking the questions to ask and then pursuing them honestly. I agree that it certainly doesn’t seem to tell us much.


Thanks for the discussion as I am still learning about nootropics. I am a software engineer, so this is something that I am interested in.


Years of drinking stuff with mild nootropic/stimulant effects like even tea or coffee, makes our brains mildly to moderately addicted (if we can call it that) to them (we cannot be as alert without them, as much as we were initially without them).

So if we want to take nootropics for whatever reason, IMHO its better to not take them every single day and also keep the doses at the minimum dose at which they can work. And slowly taper down their doses after the reasons/tasks which made you take them, are done with. Its better not to take them ‘forever’. As there are no long term studies of their side effects in humans, that are available. Also when taking them, its best to take them as early in the day as possible, as some of them can affect our sleep (from what i have gathered from my experiences and from others too). There is no study i can link to, but i observed this in a lot of people.

But whats even better in my opinion? If we can somehow enhance our brains without having to take nootropics. My idea for it…adequate sleep, closest to 100% of DV of nutrition and atleast a few minutes of mild exercise a few days a week, in some sunshine (but not by waking up early and denying ourself enough sleep), avoiding junk/processed food and mental stress. :).


There are different classes of nootropics. Only stimulants lowered brain plasticity in teenagers, which is a very specific class with specific effects.

Many nootropics have been shown to improve neuroplasticity, such as Lion’s Mane, noopept, Bacopa. Others have no effect on it because they simply prevent brain fatigue, such as sulbutiamine, picamilon, b-vitamins, methyl-B12, Choline sources just give your brain more fuel, the racetams improve bloodflow and metabolic functions, so there isn’t a mechanism by which they could reduce neuroplasticity and in fact likely improve it.

When on my full nootropics stack I quite often saw far faster gains and improvements in memory and ability than i did without them, because I wasn’t taking stimulants which would cause such effects. Of course exercise and diet is important, as is sleep, but nootropics can add on top of that an unbelievable amount.


I was not talking about neuro-plasticity alone. Some racetams modulate receptor actions dont they? if i remember correctly. So are there any studies about long term effects of it ? Also addiction potential.


Completely non-addictive. I took a month off from racetams with no ill effects just because I ran out. I had no particular urge to start them again, aside from my joy for the effects that came with them. The enhanced visual acuity,enhanced aural perception, enhanced spatial reasoning, focus, clarity. Not having the effects wasn’t devastating, they are mild effects.

Not many studies on long term effects, no, but it doesn’t seem worrisome at this point.


I am glad that it doesnt seem worrisome to you, and that it wasnt non-addictive to you. But long term studies measure the impact of using them for months and/or years on a lot of people. Since we dont have them, we cant assume they wont cause any side-effects. They are still drugs.

I am not implying people shouldnt use them at all, i am saying that we need to keep this in mind when we want to use them for a long time.


Perhaps. We certainly don’t even understand the mechanisms behind how the drugs function and what other effects they may have. Although they appear far less invasive to the body and its processes than something like caffeine or nicotine, and the possible gains to society and ourselves from enhancing our abilities is certainly worth exploring.