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Nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, are a diverse group of substances that allegedly improve various high-level brain functions. The name originates from the Ancient Greek words for “mind” and “turn.” This name was given to this broad group of drugs in 1972.

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1. What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics are substances that increase mental or cognitive function, including memory, motivation, concentration, creativity, and attention. They also support brain health. The development of nootropics is an area of neuroscience focused on cognitive enhancement by the safe use of drugs and naturally occurring substances.

Improving human cognitive function has been of interest since early civilizations consumed hallucinogens in hopes of communicating with their gods. In current times, caffeine is a common stimulant. More recently, there has been an increasing interest in the use of cognitive enhancers by healthy individuals. There are two broad groups: synthetic, or those created in the laboratory, and natural or herbal nootropics.

Model of a brain Nastasic / Getty Images
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