Widely talking, a nootropic is a compound that improves cognitive performance. A nootropic can act to improve memory, concentration, motivation, mood or just about anything at all that is related to cognition and thought.
Nootropics go by numerous names such as, smart drug and cognitive enhancers and essentially function by assisting or modifying the brains neurochemicals. Some nootropics function by altering neurotransmitters, although others stimulate neurogenesis, but the overall idea is that nootropics trigger positive improvements in the brain that support the individuals requirements.
When/Where Did Nootropics Originate?
While cognitive improvement with various chemical substances has been reported in Chinese and ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years, the phrase nootropic was coined in 1972 by Dr Corneliu Giurgea.
Dr Giurega was a Romanian scientist responsible for the synthesis of piracetam, a man-made nootropic first synthesized in 1964 that remains possibly the most well known nootropic to this day. He derived the phrase from the greek words nous (mind) and trepein (to change, to bend).
How Do Nootropics Work?
Pretty much any process within the brain that is beneficially transformed could be classed as a mechanism of action for nootropics. Popular mechanisms are; increasing blood circulation (and subsequently oxygen and glucose delivery), transforming neurotransmitters, changing synapses, providing raw elements (as with choline), increasing nerve growth rate (via nerve growth factor) and by increasing cell membrane fluidity.