Real-Life Cognitive Enhancers: Could You Become ‘Limitless’?
It’s an idea that’s been touted by the media for years, both in news and fiction: Take a pill with breakfast, and before lunch, you’re a genius. Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley dream about this sort of product, one that turns you into a prodigious figure able to make millions in weeks, learn languages in days and finish complicated projects in hours. Just from swallowing a capsule containing some enigmatic compound. Is it possible? Could Limitless soon be a documentary?
We all know that it’s a bit beyond our current level of knowledge on the human brain. It may be beyond us forever, as the human mind has its limits. But, it is certainly an appealing fantasy. And it does raise the question: Can a pill really enhance your brain in such a way? Can something you go to the doctor’s and get today, really make you smarter in such a tangible way? This article aims to answer this question. Read on, if you want to learn more.
A real-life Limitless pill is something that people have been after for a long time. Quick-fix ways to get ‘smarter’ have been around for centuries - coffee, for example, is often consumed for its nootropic effects, and foods to boost your brain are often used by indigenous peoples such as the Guarani. But, the kind of nootropic we all want, a true-blue ‘limitless pill’, only became even slightly viable over the last century or so. Amphetamines have been used since the 1930s for stimulant and cognition enhancing effects, while racetams, eugeroics (like Modafinil) and methylphenidates were all invented in the middle decades of the 20th century.
These pharmaceuticals are intended to combat disorders such as narcolepsy, but are also used by amateur brain-hackers off-label to try and boost their brainpower. And, they can provide some benefits. Modafinil has been found to boost levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can help people who are already deficient in these chemicals. Ritalin, an amphetamine, can be used to increase uptake of dopamine to improve cognitive function. There’s frequently an increase to alertness and focus as a result of taking these drugs.
However, these effects are ephemeral. After a few hours, or a day or two, the positive effects of the drugs will wear off. It’s also quite possible that a tolerance will form, necessitating a greater dose of the drug to produce the same effect. They ultimately may make you less sharp due this tolerance or dependency, so you have to buy more and more just to remain at your ‘base’ level of cognition.
Furthermore, costs may be both fiscal and physical: smart drugs tend to have a bevy of side-effects associated with them. Headaches, insomnia, loss of appetite and many other potential problems might arise from using pharmaceuticals as brain enhancers. The legality of these products also makes their ingredients dubious; prescription drugs bought online could contain almost anything, and this is often the only way to acquire them.
Aside from pharmaceutical options, foods and drinks can also enhance cognition. As mentioned, coffee is a low-impact (but still effective) cognitive enhancer. Matcha tea, guarana, panax ginseng and plenty of other foodstuffs are all historically prized for their brain enhancing effects. These might have more lasting effects too, with vitamins ingested potentially helping to raise IQ, while still providing short-term benefits to cognition. They’re more subtle than the ‘slap in the face’ of pharmaceuticals, but significantly less disruptive in terms of side effects.
Additionally, in the UK at least, food-based cognitive enhancers are much easier to source legally. This means that they avoid most of the concerns over the purity of their ingredients, being bought, sold and regulated openly. Food-based cognitive enhancers are lower-risk, their ingredients are frequently the subject of lots of research due to their being used for long periods, and still provide cognition-enhancing effects for those who consume them.
However, the question to ask is: Does any of this make you smarter? By taking NZT-48, Eddie was able to unlock some huge potential in his brain and boost his analytical skills through the roof. He makes millions on the stock market in weeks. The drug takes his brain and almost turns it into something else entirely, making him hypercompetent. He’s definitely smarter in some ways, and seems to be able to pull knowledge from nowhere.
Any of the drugs, or foodstuffs, you could consume today, will not do this. You can’t become a high-flying stock broker overnight, just from swallowing a pill or eating a special food. As mentioned earlier, the human mind has its limits; it’s simply not feasible to push them as far as a fictional smart drug does.
What these brain enhancers can do is make you better at becoming smart. ‘Smarter’ is, of course, a subjective word, but a cognitive enhancer can give you the productivity you need to grow more intelligent, more knowledgeable and (potentially) ‘smarter’. Smart drug or food, they’re both just supplements to help boost you towards your end goal.
Also, cognitive enhancers may stand to make you more successful. What I mean by this is: if you consume something that increases your productivity, makes you motivated to work, and more inclined to follow-through rather than procrastinate, you will probably be more successful. As long as side effects don’t diminish your productivity, as those associated with pharmaceuticals might, you’ll stand to be more successful in your studies or work - and if that’s what you’re looking for, cognitive enhancers might be a good option.
Ultimately, an increase in ‘smartness’ is very hard to quantify. As stated earlier, ‘smartness’ is subjective. It might be seen as either innate in a person or changing day-to-day based on mental state, and as a result it’s difficult to say if a drug or food can make you ‘smarter’. If you define intelligence as reasoning ability, a cognitive enhancer most likely can make you smarter; but, if you see it as proficiency in a practical skill, a cognitive enhancer probably couldn’t grant you that kind of smartness.
What is true is this: there are supplements and drugs out there which can increase some aspects of mental function, that might be connected with intelligence. Both drugs and foods have advantages and disadvantages associated with them in this regard, and there’s no single thing that’s guaranteed to boost your brain.
That being said, we believe that the food option is the most beneficial. BrainZyme avoids the side effects and legal concerns associated with pharmaceutical smart drugs, while still enhancing cognition, concentration and mental performance. It won’t make you entirely limitless, but it will help you to succeed at what you set your mind to. We think that, in some ways at least, means that it makes you smarter.