You might think after watching the 2011 film “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper that a cognitive enhancing drug could exist in real life, well it does exist.
Actually, the film was based on the real-life smart drug called modafinil or in the pharmaceutical market Provigil. The drug was first used in the 1970’s as a cure for narcolepsy ( a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness. People with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime. These sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity at any time of the day.) But its popularity has risen in the early 2000’s as a cognitive enhancing drug and adding more popularity to it was Cooper’s Limitless movie.
Provigil or Modafinil is also considered by some as a cognitive enhancing drug that is widely used worldwide to test if they can unlock parts of their brain to become smarter and agile. This drug is used as medication that promotes wakefulness but is not considered as a stimulant. Its mechanism is by altering the natural chemicals or neurotransmitters in the brain to function and creates wakefulness and alertness to the person who takes it.
In terms of cognitive enhancements, Modafinil has edge over stimulants like caffeine and amphetamines because of its unique mechanism that targets neurotransmitters that promotes wakefulness and alertness.
Modafinil is capable of improving a wide range of cognitive functions, such as wakefulness, ADHD, memory, athletic performance, and reaction time. However, this drug is banned in the athletic scene and is flagged as a doping agent.
The main thing Modafinil stimulates is the dopamine reuptake inhibitor in several areas of the brain which results to higher extracellular dopamine levels. It also creates an influence in the brain particularly several neurotransmitter systems to stimulate the excitement receptor or upper-like neurotransmitters and its receptors such as glutamate, acetylcholine, catecholamines, and orexins to increase positive mood, alertness, enhanced analytical processing and problem solving while at the same time suppressing the downers-like neurotransmitters and its receptors.
This increases the activity being processed in the brain’s stimulatory neurotransmitters accompanied by the decrease in the activity of the neurotransmitters that act as sedatives. Modafinil or Provigil also stimulates the release of histamines in the brain and is linked to improvements in learning and memorization.
Modafinil is considered a nootropic or cognitive enhancing drug.
In terms of benefits, Modafinil mainly focuses in the improvement of alertness and wakefulness of its user while many believe that it makes people smart. If the user follows proper dosage then it might do its work. Modafinil decreases fatigue level, it is non-stimulant unlike cocaine, amphetamines, and caffeine which do not cause addiction, it also improves processing speed and accuracy in the brain and it improves the mood positively.
Modafinil, however, has an extremely complex and so far not fully known mechanism of action that at least promotes extracellular dopamine levels, stimulates the excitatory neurotransmitters, downregulates the sedative ones, is neuroprotective, and increases the energy production and usage within the brain.
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