Nootropics are substances that enhance cognitive functioning while simultaneously being neuroprotective or extremely nontoxic. Nootropics, also known as smart drugs, are therefore cognitive enhancers, but not all cognitive enhancers are nootropics as some cognitive enhancers are not neuroprotective while others may be toxic, i.e. stimulants like Adderall. The word nootropic originated in 1972 and was coined by Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea. One of the first nootropics to be discovered was Piracetam. Piracetam is now one of the most popular nootropics available. Piracetam mainly enhances memory and learning, but users often report a variety of different benefits ranging from enhanced color perception to increased motivation to increased creativity.
Not all nootropics are synthesized in labs, in fact there are many natural nootropics available today including Rhodiola Rosea, Panax Ginseng, St John’s Wort, Bacopa, and many others.
It is important to realize that nootropics are not magic substances that will turn you into a genius overnight. Instead, they act in subtle ways to enhance your cognition in everyday activities. Probably the two most popular reasons for taking nootropics is to enhance performance in school and work. Indeed, many nootropics improve memory and learning, and concentration.
For academic performance, the most popular nootropics are the racetams and noopept. These nootropics enhance memory, learning, and focus. For work, modafinil is considered the number one nootropic.