Could I Interest You In A “Smart Drug”?
Think Limitless But With Less Side-Effects

August 20, 2015

Think Limitless the 2011 American thriller film directed by Neil Burger and starring Bradley Cooper where he finds himself unemployed and worried about gaining his girlfriend’s disapproval which has him feeling as if he has no future at all.

Facing a tough time and desperate, he tries a drug that enhances his mental acuity and like only in the movies he rises to the top pretty quickly.

Well researchers have discovered a drug that could potentially do the same for you with less negative side effects (or so we hope), as we all wish there was a quick fix when it boils down to concentration and retaining information.

Especially before a big test or speech which has most of us chugging down five cups of coffee, which leave you thinking If only there was a pill that could make you smarter’.

A new study conducted at the University of Oxford have found that a narcolepsy drug called, ‘Modafinil’ , may enhance you cognitive abilities; whilst this drug is known to assist those with sleep disorders and help with concentration and alertness.

Researchers wanted to study the affect this drug has ‘on the cognitive ability of well-rested people’.

The findings of this study were published in the European Neuropsychopharmacology journal, doctors Ruairidh Battleday and Anna Katherine- Brem from Oxford and Harvard University.

They embarked on extensive research for this study by looking at studies involving cognitive enhancement and Modafinil from January 1990 – December 2014.

The team found 24 papers on how this drug which is used for narcolepsy can assist you in decision-making, memory and creativity. After looking at the studies more in-depth researchers discovered that ‘Modafinil’ only worked depending on the task at hand.

However they did find that it could be more useful for complex thinking, executive function or consolidating memory.

Wondering if the side-effects are nearly as dangerous as the drug that Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) took? Astoundingly, researchers found 70 percent of past studies reporting that this drug had very little negative side-effects.

According to Medical Daily “In fact, most who took the drug for cognitive enhancement reported no shift in mood — those who did report side effects, though, said they experienced insomnia, headache, and nausea.”

Surprisingly this is the same side-effects that have been reported by participants who have taken the placebo.

Dr Ruairidh Battleday stated in a press release that “When these complex tests are used, it appears that modafinil more reliably enhances cognition: in particular ‘higher’ brain functions that rely on contribution from multiple simple cognitive processes.”

However the team is well aware of what introducing a “smart drug” that could help with test preparations could do, particularly when it comes down to a question of ethics? With questions such as, should it be used daily?

As the effects of using it every day still need to be explored; with the debate becoming about whether people who have no problems within the thinking department use it, and could it be categorised as cheating in some way.

As the debate continues, this is definitely one innovation to watch but for now as researchers are careful to add that this drug is not licensed to help cognitive ability. Hence why it should not be used until way more in-depth and extensive research is conducted before it could become a possibility.

Would be you queue up for this ‘’smart drug’’? We would like to know.

Sources: Medical Daily, European Neuropsychopharmacology

Alice Paulse