“Smart Drug” Modafinil Slows Reaction Time in Cognitive Test

Provigil Does NOT Improve Cognitive Performance
Attention Late Night Crammers: Provigil Does NOT Improve Cognitive Performance

Modfinil, a drug used by narcoleptics, is sometimes used by college students as a study aid.  While the drug certainly helps prevent drowsiness, it does not appear to boost cognitive performance.  In fact, a study just published in PLOS ONE showed that health volunteers who completed a sentence completion test had a similar self-reported mood and equal number of errors as the control group.  Unexpectedly, the modafinil group was significantly slower than that control group to complete the test.  The lead researcher commented “Our research showed that when a task required instant reactions the drug just increased reaction times with no improvement to cognitive performance.”

This research is in contrast to a study published in the Journal of Appetite on Think Gum® that demonstrated that Think Gum® can be used to improve aspects of memory.  In this study,  students who chewed Think Gum® performed significantly better in multiple types of word recall tests.  The magnitude of memory improvement was dramatic.  Students in the Think Gum® group remembered over 25% more than either control group.  Additionally, those students in the Think Gum® group felt significantly more alert, felt that they could better concentrate and felt they had enhanced performance as compared to the other groups.

While Provigil (Modafinil) might help you stay awake, it certainly won’t help you do better work.  So although Modafinil may be useful to keep you awake during your all night study session, it isn’t such a great idea to take it during your math test when both time and accuracy count.  For exams where answers matter, you will want to buy some Think Gum.

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Real NZT from Limitless?

Limitless NZT is for sale
Could Think Gum have been the inspiration for NZT?

I just saw a great movie called Limitless.  Not giving away the plot, Bradley Cooper comes across a drug called NZT which can “unlock his brain’s full potential”.  After taking a NZT pill, he is as sharp as can be, has amazing memory and is able to think his way out of any situation.

Of course, NZT is fiction, but some similar drugs do exist.  The most notable are modafinil (Provigil®) which was designed to help narcoleptics from falling asleep and methylphenidate (Ritalin®) which is used to treat ADHD.  While both of these drugs have been shown to improve mental capacity to some extent, they are illegal without a prescription and are not without side effects.

NZT reminded me of Think Gum® for numerous reasons.  Both improve memory.  Both help enhance concentration.  And both help people become rich and famous (kind of).  While Think Gum® will not give chewers super human intelligence, it is about as close to real NZT as exists.  Think Gum® helps people make the most out of what they’ve got, so maybe it will be the star of Limitless II, a more realistic version starring a college school student who aces his organic chemistry exam and makes dean’s list.