- Nootropic substances can be combined with your daily coffee to provide a study boost.
- Nootropics that support neurotransmitters such as Acetylcholine can be used to enhance focus.
- Bacopa monierri (BacoMind) has been clinically shown to improve memory formation and recall.
- The best Nootropic stacks consider multiple neurotransmitter networks.
The perfect Nootropic study stack.
If you’re entering a study period and are simply reaching for just coffee or caffeine to get you through, you’re missing out. This is where the tactical use of nootropics comes in. You see, Nootropics is a broad term used to describe any compound (natural or synthetic), that can be used to enhance cognitive function. What that really means is that Nootropics can facilitate greater memory retrieval, enhance your focus, improve stress tolerance and increase wakefulness. However, one must know how to integrate these into their lifestyle to reap the benefits. In this article, we will explore key nootropic compounds that support focus and memory, and look at which nootropic compounds work best together to form a ‘study stack’.
Nootropics to enhance Focus & attention:
When it comes to increasing focus, there is a range of neurotransmitters that appear to be of utmost importance. Remember, our brains are constantly being bombarded with an array of sensory information from our environment. But there is a limit to how much information, on a moment by moment basis, the brain can efficiently process. Therefore, the brain has developed an effective system for prioritizing incoming information. A mechanism by which only the most relevant and important information is focused on, and the rest – the noise – is “ignored”. This mechanism is attention.
Your brain is focusing on so much more than you might realize. Although you are most acutely aware of your attention when you are knowingly trying to focus on something, or when you are searching for something, your brain is actually paying attention on a millisecond basis to a whole world of information that you are not aware of – something that is happening at a subconscious level. Take the simple act of walking. At each step the brain is paying attention to the contours of the ground, the placing of each foot, or any obstacles in the way which may set you off balance, with most of this occurring automatically without us even realizing. This mind-muscle connection is highly orchestrated by the first neurotransmitter we alluded to earlier – Acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine is one of the most well-researched neurotransmitters known to mankind. Acetylcholine (ACh) is a fast-acting, point-to-point neurotransmitter at the neuromuscular junction and in the autonomic ganglia; however, there are fewer demonstrations of similar actions in the brain (1). Acetylcholine (ACh) is an important neurochemical in the brain for paying attention, learning and memory. Although there are relatively few ACh cells in the brain compared to some of the other major neurotransmitter systems, ACh cells – which arise from collections of nuclei in your evolutionarily older brainstem and midbrain – extend out to nearly every region of the brain (4).
Because ACh cells extend throughout the brain and because there is a widespread network of regions making up your brain’s attentional network, the specific modes of action by ACh in relation to attention are relatively complex. But in general, ACh, acting through muscarinic and nicotinic receptors, enhances attentional focus by modulating neural activity across sensory, prefrontal, parietal regions of your brain (4).
In sensory regions, such as your visual cortex which is activated when you are focusing, ACh acts to increase the signal relative to the noise. This is where compounds like BacoMind® Bacopa monnieri and KSM-66® Ashwagandha come into play, since they both act to slow the breakdown of acetylcholine (2, 3), which can be found in Sharp Mind. More specifically, ACh increases the strength of the relevant neural signal in the visual “receptive field” which represents your point of focus to make sure it is greater than the surrounding neural signals. This helps you to label which areas of your visual field are the most important, and to inhibit nearby distractions which may otherwise disturb your attentional focus (5). In your prefrontal cortex – and your medial prefrontal cortex in particular – ACh levels are increased when you are required to sustain your attentional focus over time (5).
Other neurotransmitters have been shown to enhance attention, especially in the context of making sure that you pay attention and shift your focus in a flexible and appropriate manner, based on information you have learned previously. In other words, knowing what to focus on using your experience (6). If you aren’t able to do this then you end up wasting much more time analyzing irrelevant information. This makes your attention more efficient in a dynamic and ever-changing environment (6) Sharp Mind.
Memory boosting Nootropics:
As mentioned above, BacoMind® Bacopa monnieri represents a strong candidate to increase focus and attention, but it has also been shown to enhance memory formation (7). However, that is not all, there are many other compounds that are known to influence memory but first we need to understand the process of memory formation, consolidation and retrieval. Memory is our ability to encode, store, retain, and subsequently recall information and past experience. There are different types of memory, but in general, we talk about short-term and long-term memory.
Memory plays a tremendous role in the human psyche. It affects everything from learning and cognition to the way we develop beliefs, find meaning in events, and even create our own self-image. Our ability to process, store and retrieve information is absolutely critical to every type of intelligence.
Many nootropics are powerful memory boosters that enhance the way we encode sensory input and work with it in short-term or active memory, store information in long-term memory as crystallized intelligence, and retrieve information from long-term memory as needed. Nootropics’ proven ability to enhance memory can give students a significant edge, improve efficiency and capacity in everyday work and personal tasks.
Another compound of particular importance is Sharp PS® Phosphatidylserine (found in Sharp Mind). PS is a natural compound that helps maintain cellular health, improves mood, memory, and learning ability, reduces the effects of stress, and has been proven to slow or even reverse age-related mental decline (8).
What makes the ideal study stack?
When it comes to utilizing nootropics to form a nootropic stack there are many things that one needs to consider. In the most ideal world, we would have the technology to be able to measure our neurotransmitters. However, that is simply not possible. What we can do, however, is apply what we know about specific neurotransmitters and then utilize compounds that specifically target these exact neurotransmitters to accommodate for our goal. So the ideal study stack will possess compounds that raise specific neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine and also mildly alter the GABA system. The reason for the mild alteration in the GABA system is because this is incredibly important to dampen excitatory responses in the brain. It helps us remain focused and not get distracted by excess glutamate activity. On top of this, it is extremely important to utilize compounds that also increase nerve growth factor (NGF) such as Lion’s Mane mushroom which can be found in Gut Repair. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is unique in the mushroom family both in appearance and function. Lion’s Mane Mushroom is extremely effective at stimulating Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in the brain (9). Known for its powerful effects as a “brain tonic”, Lion’s Mane is said to have been used as a tea for thousands of years by Buddhist monks, to enhance brain power, and heighten their ability to focus during meditation (9). For a comprehensive nootropic stack, see Sharp Mind System.