The word “nootropic” is another way to say “smart drug”. I first heard the term “nootropic” back in 1991 or 1992 when I read an article about “smart drugs” in MONDO 2000 magazine. The title of the article was “New Drugs That Make You Smart” – and the concept of being able to take a supplement and be able to study better, focus on tasks more precisely, or learn a new skill with less effort fascinated me.

The idea of smart drugs is appealing. The movie Limitless (starring Bradley Cooper) explored the idea, and brought smart drugs into the mainstream consciousness. While the portrayal of nootropics in Limitless was a bit over-the-top, it’s not totally unrealistic. The fictional drug NZT might not be real, but the fact is that mind- and thought-enhancing substances exist, new ones are being developed, and there will be improvements in both the capabilities and efficiency of nootropics for years to come.