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ACTUAL Self-Improvement: Concept-Formation-Accelerating Nootropics

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Can you name some that you've tried and have had actual success with them?

I wouldn't say caffeine actually accelerates concept-formation per se; I would argue that it simply speeds up the thinking that has already been done in the past (remembering something, performing some mental operation etc.). Besides caffeine, the only other thing that I could really call a nootropic (and one that actually did help with my learning), and which can be the first entry of this list, is:

1. Creatine

2.

Care to add any of your own?

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You want to avoid any kind of stimulant as a device to improve yourself, or even as a crutch to just "get by" (i.e. the 2 o'clock syndrome). Your body will build a reaction around the stimulant which will result in you going back to the chemical shortcut when you repeat the same thing. It isn't an actual dependence but your body will expect the stimulant as a crutch and will react to not getting it when you repeat the routine.

Take the time to do it without the help and you'll get better as you work through it and internally automatize the function. Then you’ll be able to perform the task properly on your terms.

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Not all nootropics are stimulants. I think there are some that have a permanent (or at least long-lasting) positive effect on the brain, long after the substance has been ingested for some interval of time. Quercetin, for example, may stimulate the growth of brain mitochondria.

1. Creatine

2. Quercetin

3.

Edited by ppw
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Caffeine has been the subject of many double-blind studies measuring its various effects. It definitely has statistically significant positive cognitive effects. Chapter 16 of the book The World of Caffeine: The science and culture of the world's most popular drug is source for a number of citations.

Here is a more recent cite which is on caffeine and glucose apart and in combination: Effects of caffeine and glucose, alone and combined, on cognitive performance

Abstract

Objective

To study the effects of consuming caffeine and glucose, alone and combined, on cognitive performance.

Methods

Seventy-two healthy subjects (36 women; age range 18–25) were tested early in the morning, having fasted overnight. Using a double-blind, randomised design, subjects received one of the following beverages: water (150 ml); water plus 75 mg of caffeine; water plus 75 g of glucose; water plus and 75 mg of caffeine and 75 g of glucose. Attention, manual dexterity, visuo-spatial and frontal functions, memory (immediate, consolidation and working) and subjective state were all assessed.

Results

The combination of caffeine and glucose had beneficial effects on attention (sequential reaction time tasks) and on learning and consolidation of verbal memory, effects not being observed when either substance was administered alone. Caffeine only showed improvement in simple reaction time and glucose in simple and one sequential reaction time tasks and in the manual dexterity assembly task.

Conclusions

The results indicate that the synergistic effects of caffeine and glucose can benefit sustained attention and verbal memory, even with adequate levels of activation of the subjects. However, further studies are required, controlling for different levels of cognitive effort and also considering measurements of neural activity.

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I can't point to any studdies or anythinf, because it just seems obvious.

Any improvement you want in your mind you should also seek in your body, because they are integrated. That is don't think obesity doesn't affect your personality or ability to think.

My point is that exercise in general will help you think more clearly.

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I can't point to any studdies or anythinf, because it just seems obvious.

Any improvement you want in your mind you should also seek in your body, because they are integrated. That is don't think obesity doesn't affect your personality or ability to think.

My point is that exercise in general will help you think more clearly.

Come on, this is old news. Some of us want to go beyond exercise, hard work and coffee. Geez, think out of that box a little. Rand ostensibly used amphetamines to finish The Fountainhead. Peikoff also admitted to using certain stimulants in one of his podcasts. But like I said before, there's more to nootropics than temporary stimulants.

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My concern goes beyond stimulants. I simply don't care for the idea of using chemicals to augment developing mental awarness or function. I see more growth through really working on your own (outside of handicape that might limit your ability to do so naturally).

Now, I'll admit I'm not familiar with all the substances like you or Grames are and I could be missing something new. I'm just going off my experience as someone who is involved in safety and training - People who put the time in to work through a process naturally by good old fashion hard work reap better rewards in the long run. Short cuts usually only help short term. There might be a reasonable short term reason to use one but if your goal is long term, like cognitive thinking, then develop the skill naturally so it will be a good long term habit.

Edited by Spiral Architect
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Quercetin, for example, may stimulate the growth of brain mitochondria.

2. Quercetin

3.

If you could provide scientific evidence that quercetin causes any improvements in memory or cognition in healthy human volunteers, I would love to see it That would mean a double blind, placebo controlled trial in healthy young human volunteers, not rats, nor seniors with cognitive deficits. Unfortunately, if you were recommended quercetin from a supplement provider then they are likely trying to sell you something on the "hope" that a study in rats or people with cognitive deficits can then be extended to healthy humans. I've looked into a lot of nootropics and have generally been dismayed by their promises after seeing the scientific literature.

As you mentioned in a post above, I did like dextroamphetamine which is likely what Rand used as well, for getting myself into a sustained mood to be productive. I don't think it enhanced any actual thinking abilities, but simply increased my ability to focus without distraction. Since focus without distraction is probably the bottleneck in most people's ability to get productive work done, you might consider it a useful tool. Others have found that the anti-narcoleptic modafinil / provigil to be useful without as much of a jittery feeling. I'm currently in a country where stimulants of all types are highly illegal, including ones that are prescribed to millions of American children, so I do not use any right now.

You should first think about what your goals are and where your bottlenecks are. Everyone has the capability of being rational, so processing speed (IQ) doesn't seem to matter that much in terms of productivity. What matters is mainly volitional, which is your ability to focus and concentrate (for the difference between the two, see Harry Binswanger's "Volition as Cognitive Self-Regulation" pamphlet). Most tasks do not really max out your "intelligence" but instead require sustained attention, integration, and time.

Instead of leaving you without anything to look into, I'll refer you to both Dual-N-back training and spaced repetition software such as Anki or Supermemo. Also look up the book "The Power of Full Engagement" by Tony Schwartz. They are not pills but I think they might provide the real world results that you are looking for. You did not state your reasons for wanting to "accelerate concept formation," but if I assume you just want to get stuff done in the real world, those will help. Be sure to look up the Jaeggi et al study on dual-n-backing and single-n-back (more recent). There's a lot you can train yourself to do in terms of memory and computation, so look up stuff on mnemonics and mental math as well.

Edited by ex_banana-eater
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Wow, some great information in that reply -- thanks!

Yes, it was a mistake to just plop quercetin on there without any first-handed experience of it at that time, hah :) Anyway, "Longecity" (this site which predominantly focuses on longevity, which is not something I'm into) has a great subforum on nootropics, so it provides that which I had hoped to find here as well -- information about ways to enhance the mind.

With regards to my motives, I feel like I've reached a cognitive plateau of some sort. I want to go beyond that. I'll get there.

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