You probably already know that nootropics are supplements or drugs that increase cognitive function. They do so without causing a high occurrence of negative interactions. This is simply because they are generally not considered to be psychoactive and therefore do not carry the same baggage that comes with these types of substances.


One highly disputed nootropic is caffeine. Caffeine is the main stimulatory drug in coffee and energy drinks. Many people wake up every morning and drink their coffee. A lot of these people feel that they cannot function without it and others feel they need it to “wake up”. Caffeine defiantly has some nootropic qualities. In fact, it affects neurotransmitters that may other cognitive enhancers also affect.

Aside from being a nootropic, caffeine is also a stimulant. These stimulatory effects are considered psychoactive because they do affect the central nervous system and how we “feel”. This is because caffeine immediately works on certain neurotransmitters that affect wakefulness and the enhancement of the body.

In the short of things, caffeine is a kind of hybrid because it functions as both a stimulant and a nootropic. It defiantly enhances wakefulness and alertness however it may also help to increase learning and memory. Many stimulants alone will not affect learning and memory however caffeine may affect both of these areas. For these reasons, it is the most widely used nootropic around.


To be considered a stimulant, a substance must affect the central nervous system. The effects stimulants have on the central nervous system may influence bodily functions like heart rate and sweating. Some of these effects on the CNS can cause the negative side effects of stimulants. Stimulants may help one to feel more awake however these effects may come at the cost of side effects. Tolerance and addiction (physical and psychological) may also be something that can occur over time

Stimulants also affect neurotransmitters and how they work. Most stimulants target dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine while most nootropics affect acetylcholine and glutamate. All the above the stated neurotransmitters affect cognitive function and how we feel. The ones stimulants affect have more negative interactions within the body. While they may greatly affect alertness and focus, stimulants should not be used long term for cognitive enhancement due to health reasons.

The Subtle Effects

The subtle effects of nootropics may be hard to pick up on at first. Obviously, there are some main reasons these effects may not be picked up so easily by a first time user. Many first time users may be expecting something close to what stimulants offer. These effects will not be observed and this may cause the individual to think the substance my not be working.

Over time, the user may discover enhancements in how they think and feel. These effects may become more apparent once the person learns what nootropics can actually do. One does not need to experience the physical effects of stimulants to have the same kind of sharp cognitive enhancements associated to them.

The Negative Effects

For the very small portion of people, nootropics may cause negative consequences to cognitive function. These results are often caused by a neurotransmitter imbalance in the brain. It is important to remember that everyone’s brain is different. Not everything will be suited or work for everyone in the exact same way. This is also true with cognitive enhancers and other drugs.

Some common negative cognitive side effects of racetam nootropic use are: brain fog, lethargy and headaches. It is important to remember when you affect one neurotransmitter with a supplement or drug other important systems may be thrown off balance. This is believed to be a common problem with those suffering from these problems when taking cognitive enhacners. This problem might be able to be solved however one should experiment before finding what works best for them.