Nootoropics (drugs/psychoactive substances) is a form of biological Cognitive Enhancement, i.e., any modification in the biology of a person which increases their cognitive capacities 1. Apart from drugs (nootropics), alternative biological cognitive enhancements include, possibly, magnetic stimulation.
Note: this page was last updated in November, 2014, and was written by a single author. It does not reflect any consensus on LessWrong.
The most imminent, successful and polemic method is through the use of drugs, substances that alter the functioning of our brain's neurochemistry in order to improve certain aspects of cognition. There is an increasing trend in the use of cognitive enhancement drugs among healthy individuals in schools and colleges2 3. This means this kind of enhancement technology is already in use. The overall impact of a widespread use of these kinds of drugs could be enormous 4. However, the whole set of ethical consequences is unknown and subject of on-going developments 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Currently, there are several drugs been used as cognitive enhancers by healthy individuals, e.g.: caffeine, ritalin, aderall, modafinil and Aricept. Academic research assessing the risks and benefits of these drugs in the healthy individual have began only recently. In addition, the results of those researches are vastly ignored by most of the concerned population. Three of the most used, promising and known cognitive enhancement drugs are listed in more detail below:...