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Home > Anti-aging Research > Smart Drugs

Supplements that may enhance mental performance

News & Research:

  • Cognitive enhancing drugs can improve chess play, scientists show - Science Daily, 3/6/17 - "a new double-blind randomised controlled trial by scientists from German and Swedish universities has shown that the cognitive enhancing drugs, modafinil, methylphenidate, and caffeine can improve chess play. Previous research had shown that the drugs could improve cognitive performance when a subject was tired or was performing below his or her optimal performance, but this is the first work to show improvement of cognitive performance even if the subject is performing at a very high level ... all three substances tested caused the players to increase the time needed to decide on a move, meaning that more games were lost as the players ran out of time. However, when the analysis was corrected to take out games lost on time, the team found that both modafinil and methylphenidate significantly increased the players' scores, whereas caffeine showed a more modest, but not statistically significant improvement ... We were surprised to see that players on the drugs played more slowly than normal, indicating that their thought processes seemed to be deeper ... If we correct for the slowest players, then the effect would be the equivalent of moving a player from say, number 5000 in the world ranking, to number 3500 in the world ranking. In a single game, the effect is the equivalent of having the white pieces, every time, which give around a 5% better chance of winning"
  • Omega-3, omega-6 supplement improves reading for children - Science Daily, 9/14/16 - "study included 154 schoolchildren from western Sweden in grade 3, between nine and ten years old. The children took a computer-based test (known as the Logos test) that measured their reading skills in a variety of ways, including reading speed, ability to read nonsense words and vocabulary ... The children were randomly assigned to receive either capsules with omega-3 and omega-6, or identical capsules that contained a placebo (palm oil) for 3 months ... After three months, all children received real omega-3/6 capsules for the final three months of the study ... Even after three months, we could see that the children's reading skills improved with the addition of fatty acids, compared with those who received the placebo" - Note:  Most American's get about 20 time the omega-6 they need.  See fish oil supplements at Amazon.com.
  • Risk-takers are smarter, according to a new study - Science Daily, 11/30/15 - "The point here is that if you're going to take risks, you have to have the required skills. And these have to be learned. Sadly, many fail during this learning process -- with tragic consequences. So this is why we're wording our findings with a Darwinian slant -- it takes brains to take risks"
  • Chimp intelligence 'runs in families,' environment less important - Science Daily, 7/11/14 - "The study found that some, but not all, cognitive, or mental, abilities, in chimpanzees depend significantly on the genes they inherit"
  • beta-alanine supplementation improves tactical performance but not cognitive function in combat soldiers - J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 Apr 10;11(1):15 - "Twenty soldiers (20.1 +/- 0.9 years) from an elite combat unit were randomly assigned to either a beta-alanine (BA) or placebo (PL) group. Soldiers were involved in advanced military training, including combat skill development, navigational training, self-defense/hand-to-hand combat and conditioning. All participants performed a 4-km run, 5-countermovement jumps using a linear position transducer, 120-m sprint, a 10-shot shooting protocol with assault rifle, including overcoming a misfire, and a 2-min serial subtraction test to assess cognitive function before (Pre) and after (Post) 28 days of supplementation ... The training routine resulted in significant increases in 4-km run time for both groups, but no between group differences were seen (p = 0.597). Peak jump power at Post was greater for BA than PL (p = 0.034), while mean jump power for BA at Post was 10.2% greater (p = 0.139) than PL. BA had a significantly greater (p = 0.012) number of shots on target at Post (8.2 +/- 1.0) than PL (6.5 +/- 2.1), and their target engagement speed at Post was also significantly faster" - See beta-alanine at Amazon.com.
  • Green tea extract boosts your brain power, especially the working memory, new research shows - Science Daily, 4/7/14 - "green tea extract increases the brain's effective connectivity, meaning the causal influence that one brain area exerts over another. This effect on connectivity also led to improvement in actual cognitive performance: Subjects tested significantly better for working memory tasks after the admission of green tea extract ... healthy male volunteers received a soft drink containing several grams of green tea extract before they solved working memory tasks. The scientists then analyzed how this affected the brain activity of the men using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI showed increased connectivity between the parietal and the frontal cortex of the brain. These neuronal findings correlated positively with improvement in task performance of the participants" - See green tea extract at Amazon.com.
  • Eat spinach or eggs for faster reflexes: Tyrosine helps you stop faster - Science Daily, 2/11/14 - "The participants had two sessions in the test lab. On one occasion they were given orange to drink that contained tyrosine, and on the other occasion the orange juice contained a placebo. The tests showed that the candidates performed better on the stopping task if they had drunk the juice with tyrosine ... Tyrosine food supplements and tyrosine-rich food are a healthy and inexpensive way of improving our intellectual capabilities. This makes them preferable to Ritalin and Modafinil, products that students often reach for to improve their academic performance. Tyrosine is safe and doesn't need a doctor's prescription" - See n-acetyl tyrosine at Amazon.com.
  • Low Omega-3 in Kids Linked to Behavior, Cognitive Deficits - Medscape, 7/23/13 - "This study formed the screening stage of a previously published randomized controlled intervention study that included 362 healthy children aged 7 to 9 years from primary schools in Oxfordshire, a large county in the UK, who had low reading scores. The DOLAB study reported that supplementation with 600 mg DHA daily for 16 weeks improved reading and behavior in children with the lowest 20% of reading scores ... The study showed that reading scores were significantly and positively associated with the omega-3 fatty acids DHA (P < .003), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA; P < .04), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; P < .005), and the omega-3 index (EPA+DHA; P < .04). Total omega-6 fatty acids also showed a positive correlation with reading ... Results were similar for working memory. Scores for Recall of Digits Forward were significantly and positively associated with DHA (P < .003), DPA (P < .04), EPA (P < .005), the omega-3 index (P < .001), and total omega-3 (P < .004)" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com and Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Serum Folate but Not Vitamin B-12 Concentrations Are Positively Associated with Cognitive Test Scores in Children Aged 6-16 Years - J Nutr. 2013 Feb 6 - "Serum folate and vitamin B-12 concentrations were measured, along with performance, on the Wide Range Achievement Test-Revised and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised ... serum concentrations of folate were associated with higher reading and block design scores after adjusting for various covariates. For example, compared with the lowest quartile of folate, children in the highest quartile scored 3.28 points or 0.19 SD units higher on the reading test (P < 0.05). Vitamin B-12 was not associated with any of the test scores. In the largest study to date, higher folate concentrations were associated with better reading and block design scores" - See folic acid products at Amazon.com.
  • Scientists Debunk the IQ Myth: Notion of Measuring One's Intelligence Quotient by Singular, Standardized Test Is Highly Misleading - Science Daily, 12/19/12
  • Body iron is associated with cognitive executive planning function in college women - Br J Nutr. 2012 Jun 7:1-8 - "The aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between body Fe, in the absence of Fe-deficiency anaemia, and neuropsychological function in young college women. Healthy, non-anaemic undergraduate women (n 42) provided a blood sample and completed a standardised cognitive test battery consisting of one manual (Tower of London (TOL), a measure of central executive function) and five computerised (Bakan vigilance task, mental rotation, simple reaction time, immediate word recall and two-finger tapping) tasks. Women's body Fe ranged from - 4.2 to 8.1 mg/kg. General linear model ANOVA revealed a significant effect of body Fe on TOL planning time (P = 0.002). Spearman's correlation coefficients showed a significant inverse relationship between body Fe and TOL planning time for move categories 4 (r - 0.39, P = 0.01) and 5 (r - 0.47, P = 0.002). Performance on the computerised cognitive tasks was not affected by body Fe level. These findings suggest that Fe status in the absence of anaemia is positively associated with central executive function in otherwise healthy college women" - See iron supplements at Amazon.com.
  • More physical education in schools leads to better grades, study suggests - Science Daily, 5/23/12 - "96 percent of the intervention group compared to 89 percent in the control group achieved the goals of compulsory school and were eligible to go on to upper-secondary school. It is primarily the boys' achievements -- with 96 percent vs. 83 percent -- that lies behind this outcome. Moreover, the boys in the intervention group had significantly higher grades in Swedish, English, Mathematics, and PE and health than the boys in the control group ... In grade 9, 93 percent of the students in the intervention group evinced good motor skills compared to 53 percent in the control group ... The study is unique. There are no previous findings that statistically show the effects and impact of an intervention over so many years. The reliability of the findings is further enhanced by the homogenity in the groups under investigation: the children are the same age, go to the same school, and have parents with comparable education, income, and interest in physical activity"
  • Good aerobic capacity promotes learning - Science Daily, 2/13/12 - "It was found that rats with intrinsically high aerobic capacity clearly outperformed those with intrinsically low aerobic capacity. It must be emphasized that the animals were not given any physical exercise before the learning test. Thus, the results suggest that it is the aerobic capacity and not physical activity alone that is related to flexible cognition"
  • Chronic Administration of Cardanol (Ginkgol) Extracted from Ginkgo biloba Leaves and Cashew Nutshell Liquid Improves Working Memory-Related Learning in Rats - Biol Pharm Bull. 2012;35(1):127-9 - "These findings suggest that cardanol is one of the components in Ginkgo biloba leaves that improves cognitive learning ability" - See Ginkgo biloba at Amazon.com.
  • School performance may be linked to physical activity - Science Daily, 1/2/12 - "According to the best-evidence synthesis, we found strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance. The findings of one high-quality intervention study and one high-quality observational study suggest that being more physically active is positively related to improved academic performance in children ... exercise may help cognition by increasing blood and oxygen flow to the brain, increasing levels of norepinephrine and endorphins to decrease stress and improve mood, and increasing growth factors that help create new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity"
  • IQ isn't fixed at birth, can increase - USATODAY.com, 12/27/11 - "the average increased by 0.6 points, which correlated with an increase in IQ of 3.7 points for an addition year of schooling"
  • Boosting mental performance with fish oil? - Science Daily, 10/21/11 - "overall, taking either of two different types of fish oil supplement for three months had no consistent impact on mental function in 18 -- 35-year-olds, however they did find evidence of reduced mental fatigue and faster reaction times. Contrary to popular belief, these results suggest that taking omega-3 or fish oil supplements may not have an immediate or measureable impact on mental performance in healthy young adults, possibly due to the fact that this population is already performing at its mental peak or that higher doses or longer than 12 weeks supplementation are required ... Interestingly, in the second of these studies it was found that taking DHA-rich fish oil over the same time period did increase blood flow to active areas of the brain during performance of similar mental tasks. The researchers claim these findings could have implications for mental function later on in life, as evidence suggests regularly eating oily fish or taking omega-3 supplements may prevent cognitive decline and dementia, and increased blood flow to the brain may be a mechanism by which this occurs" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com and Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Primary schoolchildren that sleep less than 9 hours do not perform as well academically, study suggests - Science Daily, 9/13/11 - "sleeping less than nine hours, going to bed late and no bedtime routine generally affects children's academic skills ... the lacking hours of sleep distorts children's performance in linguistic knowledge, grammar and spelling rules, and key aspects in the organisation and comprehension of texts, to name a few examples. They are basic skills, meaning that if the pupil, due to a lack of sleep, develops problems in this area, it could have a repercussion on all subjects"
  • Exercise has numerous beneficial effects on brain health and cognition, review suggests - Science Daily, 7/25/11 - "In a new review article highlighting the results of more than a hundred recent human and animal studies on this topic, Michelle W. Voss, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues show that both aerobic exercise and strength training play a vital role in maintaining brain and cognitive health throughout life ... The review suggests that aerobic exercise is important for getting a head start during childhood on cognitive abilities that are important throughout life. For example, physical inactivity is associated with poorer academic performance and results on standard neuropsychological tests, while exercise programs appear to improve memory, attention, and decision-making. These effects also extend to young and elderly adults, with solid evidence for aerobic training benefiting executive functions, including multi-tasking, planning, and inhibition, and increasing the volume of brain structures important for memory"
  • High Folate Intake Linked to Better Grades in Swedish Teens - Medscape, 7/15/11 - "Sweden is a country that does not allow foods to be fortified ... We have a poor intake of folate compared to people in the US, our intake is below what is recommended daily. We do not achieve the recommended daily intake in Sweden ... Blood samples were obtained and assayed for total homocysteine, a biomarker for folate intake, and mutations in the methylene tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene, which is known to raise levels of homocysteine ... teens in the lowest tertile of dietary folate intake had the poorest academic performance"
  • Ingested Oat Herb Extract (Avena sativa) Changes EEG Spectral Frequencies in Healthy Subjects - J Altern Complement Med. 2011 May 12 - "These changes suggest that oat herb extract might be effective in healthy subjects, resulting in a positive impact on cognitive performance" - See Avena sativa products at iHerb.
  • Too much or too little sleep may accelerate cognitive aging, study shows - Science Daily, 5/1/11 - "women and men who begin sleeping more or less than 6 to 8 hours per night are subject to an accelerated cognitive decline that is equivalent to four to seven years of aging ... The researchers also found that, in women, sleep duration of 7 hours of sleep per night was associated with the highest score for every cognitive measure, followed closely by 6 hours of nightly sleep. Among men, cognitive function was similar for those who reported sleeping 6, 7 or 8 hours; only short and long sleep durations of less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours appeared to be associated with lower scores"
  • Giftedness linked to prenatal exposure of higher levels of testosterone - Science Daily, 3/12/11 - "There seems to be some evidence that excessive prenatal exposure to testosterone facilitates increased connections in the brain, especially in the right prefrontal cortex ... That's why we see some intellectually gifted people with distinct personality characteristics that you don't see in the normal population ... Based on their observations, the researchers made the hypothesis that this hormonal "glitch" in the in-utero neurobiological development means that gifted children are born with an affinity for certain areas such as the arts, math or science"
  • Neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of beneficial effects of prenatal omega-3 fatty acid intake on memory function at school age - Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar 9 - "The beneficial effects of prenatal and early postnatal intakes of omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) on cognitive development during infancy are well recognized. However, few studies have examined the extent to which these benefits continue to be evident in childhood ... Repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed that children with higher cord plasma concentrations of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is an important n-3 PUFA, had a shorter FN400 latency and a larger LPC amplitude; and higher plasma DHA concentrations at the time of testing were associated with increased FN400 amplitude. Cord DHA-related effects were observed regardless of seafood-contaminant amounts. Multiple regression analyses also showed positive associations between cord DHA concentrations and performance on neurobehavioral assessments of memory ... To our knowledge, this study provides the first neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral evidence of long-term beneficial effects of n-3 PUFA intake in utero on memory function in school-age children" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com and Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Exercise helps overweight children think better, do better in math - Science Daily, 2/10/11 - "Regular exercise improves the ability of overweight, previously inactive children to think, plan and even do math ... MRIs showed those who exercised experienced increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex -- an area associated with complex thinking, decision making and correct social behavior -- and decreased activity in an area of the brain that sits behind it. The shift forward appears consistent with more rapidly developing cognitive skills ... And the more they exercised, the better the result. Intelligence scores increased an average 3.8 points in those exercising 40 minutes per day after school for three months with a smaller benefit in those exercising 20 minutes daily ... Animal studies have shown that aerobic activity increases growth factors so the brain gets more blood vessels, more neurons and more connections between neurons. Studies in older adults have shown exercise benefits the brain and Davis's study extends the science to children and their ability to learn in school"
  • Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? - NYTimes.com, 9/15/10 - "among more than a million 18-year-old boys who joined the army, better fitness was correlated with higher I.Q.’s, even among identical twins. The fitter the twin, the higher his I.Q. The fittest of them were also more likely to go on to lucrative careers than the least fit, rendering them less likely, you would hope, to live in their parents’ basements. No correlation was found between muscular strength and I.Q. scores. There’s no evidence that exercise leads to a higher I.Q., but the researchers suspect that aerobic exercise, not strength training, produces specific growth factors and proteins that stimulate the brain"
  • Inflammation is associated with lower intelligence and premature death - Science Daily, 9/6/10 - "with low-grade inflammation performed more poorly on standardised intelligence tests, even after excluding those with signs of current illness. Inflammation also predicted an increased risk of premature death ... This suggests that even low levels of inflammation can have detrimental consequences for health and brain function ... it is the largest study to date to show that low-grade inflammation in young adulthood is associated with intelligence and mortality"
  • Regular aerobic exercise is good for the brain - Science Daily, 4/26/10 - "Regular exercise speeds learning and improves blood flow to the brain ... monkeys who exercised regularly at an intensity that would improve fitness in middle-aged people learned to do tests of cognitive function faster and had greater blood volume in the brain's motor cortex than their sedentary counterparts ... This suggests people who exercise are getting similar benefits ... When the researchers examined tissue samples from the brain's motor cortex, they found that mature monkeys that ran had greater vascular volume than middle-aged runners or sedentary animals. But those blood flow changes reversed in monkeys that were sedentary after exercising for five months"
  • Ritalin boosts learning by increasing brain plasticity - Science Daily, 3/7/10 - "Ritalin boosts both of these cognitive abilities by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine deep inside the brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers neurons use to communicate with each other. They release the molecule, which then docks onto receptors of other neurons. The research demonstrated that one type of dopamine receptor aids the ability to focus, and another type improves the learning itself"
  • DHA brain benefits may extend to middle age - Nutra USA, 3/1/10 - "Higher DHA was related to better performance on tests of nonverbal reasoning and mental flexibility, working memory, and vocabulary ... increasing levels of DHA were associated with improved mental function in a “generally linear" - [Abstract] - See Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Serum Phospholipid Docosahexaenonic Acid Is Associated with Cognitive Functioning during Middle Adulthood - J Nutr. 2010 Feb 24 - "higher DHA (mol %) was related to better performance on tests of nonverbal reasoning and mental flexibility, working memory, and vocabulary (P </= 0.05). These associations were generally linear. Associations between DHA and nonverbal reasoning and working memory persisted with additional adjustment for participant education and vocabulary scores ... Among the 3 key (n-3) PUFA, only DHA is associated with major aspects of cognitive performance in nonpatient adults <55 y old. These findings suggest that DHA is related to brain health throughout the lifespan and may have implications for clinical trials of neuropsychiatric disorders" - See Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Can a Mid-Day Nap Make You Smarter? - WebMD, 2/22/10 - "People in the group which didn't nap had a slight reduction of about 10% in their learning capacity during the day ... ''whereas the people who had a nap in between the first time they tried to learn relative to the second time they tried to learn actually improved their ability to learn by 10% ... The total time the participants slept during the 90-minute window didn't matter much in their later performance, Walker found. But the greater the amount of stage 2 non-REM sleep, a lighter form of non-dreaming sleep, the better their performance"
  • Magnesium May Improve Memory - WebMD, 1/27/10 - "increasing brain magnesium using a newly developed compound, magnesium-L-threonate (MgT), improves learning abilities, working memory, and short- and-long-term memory in rats. The magnesium also helped older rats perform better on a battery of learning tests ... The researchers cite that only 32% of Americans get the recommended daily allowance of magnesium" - See Jarrow Formulas, Magnesium Optimizer Citrate at Amazon.com.
  • Coffee Break Boosts Memory - WebMD, 1/27/10 - "Taking a coffee break after class can actually help you retain that information you just learned"
  • Running Boosts Brainpower - WebMD, 1/19/10 - "Running may do more than improve your cardiovascular fitness and overall physique. It might actually make you smarter ... Scientists reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences say that running has a profound impact on the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory"
  • Young adults who exercise get higher IQ Scores - Science Daily, 12/2/09 - "The study shows a clear link between good physical fitness and better results for the IQ test. The strongest links are for logical thinking and verbal comprehension ... Being fit means that you also have good heart and lung capacity and that your brain gets plenty of oxygen ... This may be one of the reasons why we can see a clear link with fitness, but not with muscular strength. We are also seeing that there are growth factors that are important"
  • Cardiovascular Fitness May Sharpen Mind - WebMD, 11/30/09 - "A large new study links cardiovascular fitness in early adulthood to increased intelligence, better performance on cognitive tests, and higher educational achievement later in life ... When researchers looked at twins, they found that environmental factors rather than genetics appeared to play the largest role in these associations. Non-shared environmental influences accounted for 80% or more of differences in academic achievement, whereas genetics accounted for less than 15% of these differences"
  • Teenage Boys Who Eat Fish At Least Once A Week Achieve Higher Intelligence Scores - Science Daily, 3/9/09 - "Eating fish once a week was enough to increase combined, verbal and visuospatial intelligence scores by an average of six per cent, while eating fish more than once a week increased them by just under 11 per cent" - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com and Jarrow Max DHA at Amazon.com.
  • Eat Fish, Get Smarter? - WebMD, 11/8/07 - "Most participants ate fish, and the more fish they ate, the better their test scores were -- up to a point ... Test scores leveled off for people who ate more than about 2.5 to 2.8 daily ounces of fish" - Note:  The article includes a total of three studies. - See Mega Twin EPA at Amazon.com.
  • Inadequate Iodine Intake Linked to Low Intelligence Quotient - Medscape, 8/9/04 - "This study demonstrates that the IQ of schoolchildren in a developed country can be influenced by iodine intake"
  • Can a Pill Make You Smarter? - WebMD, 7/13/04
  • What Creates Smarts? - WebMD, 1/17/02
  • Study Finds "Smart Drug" Doesn't Work In Children With Down Syndrome - Intelihealth, 4/12/01 - "does not boost children's intellectual ability ... the drug, called piracetam, had side effects such as aggression, irritability and poor sleep in some of the youngsters"
  • Attention Deficit Discovery - WebMD, 11/6/00 - ""When we gave these animals [Prozac], which affects the serotonin system, it had a dramatic effect on learning and memory, improving performance fourfold." Wetsel says."