Nootropics and Neuroplasticity: How They Affect Brain Plasticity

Nootropics, also known as smart drugs, are a class of compounds that are believed to improve cognitive function, enhance memory, and boost creativity. But how do these substances affect the brain? One way is through their impact on brain plasticity.

Updated March 24th 2023

Brain plasticity

Brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, is the brain's ability to change and adapt in response to new experiences, learning, and environmental factors. It plays a critical role in learning, memory formation, and the development of new skills.

Research has shown that nootropics can modulate neuroplasticity in several ways, potentially leading to improved cognitive function. In this article, we will explore how nootropics can affect brain plasticity and improve cognitive function.

Hunter Focus - Best Nootropic Overall - Check Deals

NooCube - Best Value For Money

VyvaMind - Best Entry Level Product

Mind Lab Pro - Best All Rounder

Alpha Brain - Best Mid Range Product

Nootropics and Neurotransmitters

Many nootropics act by influencing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. These neurotransmitters play important roles in brain plasticity, modulating synaptic transmission and promoting the growth and survival of neurons.

For example, nootropics like racetams and modafinil are believed to enhance the release and uptake of acetylcholine, which is important for memory formation and learning. Other nootropics like caffeine and theanine have been shown to affect dopamine and serotonin levels, which can improve mood and cognitive performance.

Nootropics and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that is critical for the growth and survival of neurons. It plays a key role in brain plasticity, promoting the formation of new synapses and enhancing synaptic plasticity.

Research has shown that some nootropics, such as piracetam and aniracetam, can increase BDNF levels in the brain, potentially promoting the growth and survival of neurons and enhancing cognitive function.

Nootropics and Neuroinflammation

Neuroinflammation, or inflammation in the brain, can contribute to a range of neurological conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis. Nootropics may help to reduce neuroinflammation by modulating the immune response in the brain.

For example, nootropics like curcumin and omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce neuroinflammation and improve cognitive function.

Nootropics and Mitochondrial Function

Mitochondria are the energy-producing organelles within cells that play a critical role in brain function. Research has shown that nootropics like alpha-lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10 can enhance mitochondrial function, potentially improving cognitive function and reducing the risk of neurological disorders.

Nootropics and Synaptic Plasticity

Synaptic plasticity is the ability of synapses to change in strength and efficacy in response to activity. This is a critical process for learning and memory formation. Some nootropics, such as noopept and phenylpiracetam, have been shown to enhance synaptic plasticity, potentially improving cognitive function.

Nootropic Ingredients And Neuroplasticity

Studies have shown that some nootropics can enhance neuroplasticity, which is the brain's ability to change and adapt over time. Neuroplasticity is essential for learning and memory, and it is also important for recovering from brain injuries and neurological diseases.

One nootropic that has been found to improve neuroplasticity is piracetam, a member of the racetam family. Studies have shown that piracetam can increase the number of synapses in the brain, which is important for enhancing communication between neurons.

Another nootropic that has been found to enhance neuroplasticity is Lion's Mane mushroom. This mushroom contains compounds called hericenones and erinacines, which can stimulate the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that promotes the growth and survival of neurons.

Other nootropics that have been found to improve neuroplasticity include:

Bacopa monnieri: This herb has been shown to increase dendritic length and branching, which is important for enhancing communication between neurons.

Citicoline: This compound has been found to increase the production of phosphatidylcholine, a key component of cell membranes in the brain. This can enhance the ability of neurons to communicate with each other.

Curcumin: This compound, found in turmeric, has been found to promote neuroplasticity by increasing the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that promotes the growth and survival of neurons.


Research suggests that nootropics can have a positive impact on brain plasticity and cognitive function. However, it is important to note that not all nootropics are created equal, and some may have side effects or interact with other medications.

It is also important to note that the effects of nootropics on neuroplasticity may vary depending on the individual and the specific nootropic being used. More research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms by which nootropics affect neuroplasticity and cognitive function.

In conclusion, nootropics have the potential to improve brain plasticity and cognitive function by enhancing communication between neurons and promoting the growth and survival of neurons.


Yang G, Pan F, Gan WB. Stably maintained dendritic spines are associated with lifelong memories. Nature. 2009;462(7275):920-924. doi:10.1038/nature08577

Winblad B. Piracetam: a review of pharmacological properties and clinical uses. CNS Drug Rev. 2005;11(2):169-182. doi:10.1111/j.1527-3458.2005.tb00036.x

Mori K, Obara Y, Hirota M, et al. Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008;31(9):1727-1732. doi:10.1248/bpb.31.1727

Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001;156(4):481-484. doi:10.1007/s002130100815

Silveri MM, Dikan J, Ross AJ, et al. Citicoline enhances frontal lobe bioenergetics as measured by phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy. NMR Biomed. 2008;21(10):1066-1075. doi:10.1002/nbm.1281

Goozee KG, Shah TM, Sohrabi HR, et al. Examining the potential clinical value of curcumin in the prevention and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Br J Nutr. 2016;115(3):449-465. doi:10.1017/S0007114515004687

Ahlemeyer B, Krieglstein J. Neuroprotective effects of Ginkgo biloba extract. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2003;60(9):1779-1792. doi:10.1007/s00018-003-3084-1

Leuner K, Schulz K, Schütt T, et al. Peripheral administration of the soluble TNF inhibitor XPro1595 modifies brain immune cell profiles, decreases beta-amyloid plaque load, and rescues impaired long-term potentiation in 5xFAD mice. Neurobiol Dis. 2018;114:63-72. doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2018.01.016

Maslov LN, Lishmanov YB, Arbuzov AG, et al. Effects of adaptogens on the central nervous system and the molecular mechanisms associated with their stress—protective activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188-224. doi:10.3390/ph3010188

Join the Insiders & Never Miss an Article!