[Doping for the brain]

Z Gerontol Geriatr. 2018 Feb;51(2):143-148. doi: 10.1007/s00391-017-1351-y. Epub 2017 Dec 5.
[Article in German]


The enhancement of physical and cognitive abilities (i. e. concentration, vigilance, memory) has always been desirable for humans. The term pharmacological neuroenhancement refers to the use of legal or nonprescription psychoactive substances by healthy subjects with the intention of cognitive enhancement. To give the most prominent example, caffeine serves worldwide as a natural stimulant. Brain doping, however, specifies the use of illegal substances or prescription drugs beyond approval with the purpose of cognitive enhancement. Only amphetamines, methylphenidate and modafinil have significant effects on attentiveness, concentration and alertness, whereas other substances, such as anti-dementia drugs or anti-depressants failed to demonstrate cognitive enhancement in healthy subjects.

Keywords: Brain doping; Cognition; Enhancement; Neuroenhancement; Psychotropic drugs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amphetamines / pharmacology
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Cognitive Aging*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / pharmacology*
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology
  • Modafinil / pharmacology
  • Nootropic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Plant Preparations / pharmacology
  • Prescription Drugs / pharmacology
  • Psychotropic Drugs / pharmacology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders*


  • Amphetamines
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Plant Preparations
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Methylphenidate
  • Modafinil