A recent study found that popular over-the-counter drug Modafinil is actually a mental enhancer.
The finding which was first conducted by researchers from both Oxford and Harvard Medical Schools, and published on European Neuropsychopharmacology journal found that this medicine which is usually used to treat sleep disorders has immense cognitive properties.
Essentially, Modafinil helps people become better thinkers.
Modafinil works by stimulating brain parts that are responsible for improving decision-making and planning, once taken this effect can last for several hours making one think flexibly, combine information in an intelligent manner and cope with difficult situations creatively.
According to one of the researchers, neuropsychologist Anna-Katharine Brem, what came out consistently was that longer and more difficult tasks were accomplished faster by Modafinil test subjects than in other people.
Though no serious health concerns were found in the publication, doctors still caution that most tests happened in controlled settings and only focused on effects of a single dosage.
Modafinil is often used by college students and adults looking for better productivity at their respective workplaces, though this “off-label” drug can treat various medical problems such as ADHD, most of those who use it don’t even have these conditions.
It’s also believed that Modafinil helps in improving the brain’s level of dopamine and norepinephrine hormones, which are both responsible for alertness and concentration.
Though scientists are still trying to determine which brain channels the drug uses, one likely pathway is stimulating release of histamine which triggers a feeling of wakefulness.
Those who suffer from insomnia are probably aware of antihistamines which induce sleep, Modafinil does exactly the opposite by boosting it and keeping you awake.
It also affects neurotransmitter cells in the brain, where one of the resulting effects is giving people enhanced mental capacities.
Debate is still ongoing as to whether these drugs are completely safe, or there are certain health risks which people should be aware of. Generally, medics hold the opinion that Modafinil can only be dangerous when taken excessively.
Some experts also believe that long-term use of the drug can affect sleeping patterns. In rare instances and at higher doses, stimulants have been known to induce psychosis.
Other psychiatrists maintain that health risks associated with cognitive-enhancers such as Modafinil are overhyped, simply because millions of people use them regularly and not all develop ADHD and other related disorders.
In fact, clinical psychiatrist James McGough categorically maintains that “they’re safe”.
One would experience no horrible side effects from using Modafinil.
Among the research findings was that very few healthy subjects were assessed, about 30 participants for each study.
It was also found that most of the mental tests used in these studies were more suitable for those suffering from neuropsychiatric illness and neurological disorders.
The issue with this is that healthy individuals perform well in them even without consuming Modafinil, therefore cognitive performance improvements can be hard to tell.
Still, the benefits can’t be totally disapproved and they include things such as enhanced attention, strong memory, faster learning and executive functions.
The Modafinil study’s proponents argue that they have a stronger case for continued tests using classical scientific methods to unravel even more truths.
Future tests will feature improved inspection regimes, a bigger participant pool and extended administration periods.
The scientific team also recommends more cognitive training and noninvasive brain stimulation methods during testing.
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