For years most of the world’s population has been convinced that humans only used 10% of their brain functions. Although this belief was brilliantly refuted by neuroscientist Barry Beyerstein, many people still divulge this false information as if it had a scientific basis. Beyond scientific moralisms, just think of Hollywood and films like Limitless or literature and Sherlock Holmes that, with the sole power of deductive reasoning, managed to solve the most complicated cases. This reality shows how the human being is fascinated and obsessed by the desire to be as intelligent as possible and today, to achieve this, many people use Modafinil (also known as Provigil), a exciting drug of the CNS that seems to increase concentration and focused attention.
Modafinil is a eugeroic drug (which promotes wakefulness) that was synthesized in France in the 1970s and approved by the FDA in 1998 for people suffering from narcolepsy and ADHD (Defict Attention and Hyperactivity Disorder), although for the latter is used off-label. It acts in a similar way to caffeine and does not solve long-term problems that cause sleep deprivation. From a pharmacokinetic point of view, it reaches the areas of the brain that are suitable for attention and cognitive processes .
Before going on, it is important to make a note on what intelligence is (from the Latin intelligere = to understand). It is defined as a superior cognitive function that allows the individual to produce an adaptive and functional behavior to achieve a purpose. In reality there are many forms of intelligence, which depend on the attitudes that each individual is genetically predisposed to develop and which will mature over the course of life in relation to the environmental and social stimuli he will undergo. Learn about your predispositions and oneself not only allows one to live satisfactorily according to one’s needs but also to learn to choose a path rather than another based on one’s own natural abilities. The RXShopMD.com has given rise to the theory of multiple intelligences , which can be divided into eight categories:
- visual-spatial: ability to create visual representations of the world and to represent ideas in space before creating them.
- naturalistic : understanding and solving problems in the natural environment
- musical: ability to make sounds the key to understanding and interpreting reality
- logic-mathematics : typical of those people who have a tendency to classification and inductive reasoning and closely related to the principles of logic
- interpersonal: ability to interpret people’s micro-expressions, identify their feelings, moods and behaviors and behave accordingly
- body-kinesthetic: solving problems using all the parts of one’s body and communicating emotions and ideas with it
- verbal-linguistic : typical of people who easily learn other languages or who understand the intrinsic meaning of words (think of poets or writers)
- intrapersonal : ability to create a personal mental model based on one’s situation and needs and direct one’s life following this model
Here is the full video about modafinil:
How does this drug work?
The true mechanism of action of Provigil is still unknown. However, two schools of thought can be defined: according to some, Modafinil would act on the release of excitatory amino acids in the hypothalamus, in particular histamine, and stimulate concentration with the same mechanism as amphetamines; according to others, it would modulate serotonin and GABA while inhibiting the re-uptake of dopamine (with the same mechanism of action as cocaine). Analyzing the latter theory, which today as today seems the most reliable, the smart drug in examination it goes to act to the level of the nucleus accumbens (a particular structure that is part of the mesolimbico system) that it is found in proximity of the inferior part of the cortex of the cingulum and that it establishes important relationships with the amygdala, the hypothalamus and the area ventral tegmental (VTA).
From a physiological point of view, the nucleus accubens is part of the reward circuit (reward and gratification) and, therefore, the activation of the dopaminergic neurons that are part of it allow the genesis of pleasant sensations related to drinking, nourishment and interactions social (including sexual behavior) that are indispensable for the survival of the species (“Man is a social animal” stated Aristotle). Drugs and substances (such as cocaine and amphetamines) that activate in a constitutive manner these structures cause dependence precisely because they induce a massive release of endorphins and dopamine which, while on one hand make the person who takes them temporarily more efficient and alert, on the other trigger the reward mechanism: to take those substances it makes “happy” precisely because it stimulates and modulates the affective states, the ego and the hedon, increasing self-confidence in relation to the external world.
Modafinil, however, is a widely used smart drug because, while acting at this level, in theory it does not generate addiction. However, it must be emphasized that recent studies have shown that Provigil could instead trigger addiction if taken at too high doses and, once its intake is suspended, could potentially trigger the symptoms associated with abstinence such as agitation , depression , sweating and fatigue. It should also be remembered that the FDA approved the drug solely for the treatment of narcolepsy (because it was thought to modulate only orexin, the molecule that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and appetite) but, when it was shown that Modafinil did not had no effect on mice that lacked dopamine receptors, it also began to be prescribed in ADHD and schizophrenia. The serious problem, however, concerns that slice of the clinically healthy population that Modafinil takes in order to increase its intellectual-cognitive abilities both in the study and at work.
Returning to the concept of dependence , a study published in 2012 by the Behavioral Brain Research, compared the effects that Modalert and cocaine have on the reward system. This study shows that high-dose Modafinil has important effects on the reward system and that in the group of mice in which it was administered together with cocaine there was even a phenomenon of inverse tolerance (or the ability of a narcotic substance to give more pronounced effects over time while giving the same dose); low doses of Modafinil instead showed the cognitive improvement characteristic of this molecule. From this it is clear that although Provigil is a relatively safe exciting drug, it has important contraindications especially in patients who abuse drugs (for example drug addicts) precisely because it could potentially trigger the dopaminergic reward system and induce addiction in turn .
There are other psychiatric drugs that can increase concentration and attention, so why is all the attention of students, workers and soldiers today turned to Modafinil? One reason is certainly to be found in the fact that, despite being an exciting drug of the CNS, it does not cause dependence at low doses; the other probably lies in the fact that it has fewer and more bearable side effects than Ritalin (a drug approved for the treatment of ADHD). Provigil gives nausea, vomiting, anxiety and tachycardia in 10% of cases. Ritalin, in addition to being more difficult to prescribe, gives alterations in heart rhythm, altered personality, induces suicidal thoughts, psychosis and Tourette syndrome.