Thursday, April 17, 2014

'Smart Drugs' Are Stupid



Smart drugs, or “nootropics,” are a topic I’ve stayed cleared of until now because, well, the idea of using them was stupid.  Not only is the research on those so-called smart drugs severely deficient and inadequate; but also the evidence on which people make their decision to use them or not derive largely from anecdotes found on Internet forums, which are fishy to me and notoriously unreliable. 

There are a few problems as to why the situation on the topic of smart drugs is in disarray.  The first is that a distinction between simple arousal and stimulation versus true learning is often sloppily made or passed over.  The second is that there is too much emphasis placed on manipulating neurotransmitters, namely choline, serotonin, histamine, dopamine, and norepinephrine.  And the third is that there is a tendency to deemphasize (or to gloss over altogether) the availability and metabolism of glucose, as well as the hormones that govern and interact with these processes, such as insulin, thyroid hormone, and cortisol.