Nootropics

The struggle to find a drug that makes you so fast that you save more time taking it than you lose reading about it



Medication for brain performance enhancement. Anecdotally ubiquitous amongst the next cohort of my highly competitive field, and dotcom types. Tweaking brains with ‘smart drugs’ to get ahead in Silicon Valley is notorious. Also my brief contact with finance types leads me to believe it is common there. I am sure it is in many industries besides.

My advice on this is of course worthless, as I know nothing of pharmacology etc. But even if I did, I would not endorse the taking of performance enhancing drugs without professional medical and legal advice regarding your compliance with local governmental regime and its positioning/branding..

Is ISRIB any good?

Some people like Zembrin.

DIY? “Neurohacker toolbox”. Scott Alexander speculates: Cognitive enhancers: mechanisms and tradeoffs. Relates to Gwern’s Drug Heuristics.

Aella, Are you just pushing the “insight” button? on taking LSD for the (feeling of?) insight.

SMBC on uppers

In practice, most nerds seem to take modafinil plus some other things. A profusion of sites with names like Nootropics Depot, modafinil.org, modafinilxl.com and buymodafinilonline.com and presumably modafinil4meplz.com suggest that doing this without prescription is pretty common. One might imagine it is a kind of ‘viagra for the brain’ niche that is being filled here. I am unclear how legal that is, nor how safe, nor how effective it would even if it were safe or legal.

Recently there is interest in Zembrin.

References

Astrid, Nehlig. 2010. “Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer?” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, no. S1: 85–94. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-2010-091315.
Chen, Ning, Mi Yang, Muke Zhou, Jing Xiao, Jian Guo, and Li He. 2017. “L-carnitine for cognitive enhancement in people without cognitive impairment.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 3 (March): CD009374. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD009374.pub3.
Moran, Rosalyn J., Pablo Campo, Mkael Symmonds, Klaas E. Stephan, Raymond J. Dolan, and Karl J. Friston. 2013. “Free Energy, Precision and Learning: The Role of Cholinergic Neuromodulation.” The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 33 (19): 8227–36. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4255-12.2013.
Rae, Caroline D., and Stefan Bröer. 2015. “Creatine as a Booster for Human Brain Function. How Might It Work?” Neurochemistry International 89 (October): 249–59. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuint.2015.08.010.
Smith, A. 2005. “Effects of Repeated Doses of Caffeine on Mood and Performance of Alert and Fatigued Volunteers.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 19 (6): 620–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881105056534.
Vossel, Simone, Markus Bauer, Christoph Mathys, Rick A. Adams, Raymond J. Dolan, Klaas E. Stephan, and Karl J. Friston. 2014. “Cholinergic Stimulation Enhances Bayesian Belief Updating in the Deployment of Spatial Attention.” The Journal of Neuroscience 34 (47): 15735–42. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0091-14.2014.

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