While it's good to have a basic idea of how nootropics work and what areas of cognitive function they can improve, many people want to know exactly how nootropics and smart pills affect the brain. There are several parts of the brain affected by nootropics. In general, all of these areas are affected by the use of any nootropic, while some nootropics affect one area more than others.
It's clear that neurotransmitters play a huge role in how nootropics work. Neurons are the cells that use and send neurotransmitters. The axon of one neuron sends neurotransmitters out across the synapse, the gap between neurons. After crossing the synapse, the neurotransmitter binds to a receptor on the dendrite of another neuron.
Nootropics affect neurons in several different ways. They may increase the availability of neurotransmitters, which increases the amount of receptors on a receiving dendrite. They may also increase the amount of any particular neurotransmitter in the brain, which affects how neurons work and how many connections they build. Within neurons, there are many types of connections and systems, all of which are affected by nootropics.
There are two types of receptors in an acetylcholine system: nicotinic and muscarinic. Nootropics that work in acetylcholine systems may increase the amount of acetylcholine in the brain and make it easier for neurons to pick up available acetylcholine in the brain.
As a result of increased acetylcholine levels, nootropics users may experience improvements in memory recall, learning, and focus. One type of nootropic that affects acetylcholine is acetylcholine agonists. They increase synapses in an acetylcholine system, which allows the brain to make use of an increase in acetylcholine.
Glutamate is another neurotransmitter that is present in the brain. In fact, glutamate is the most common neurotransmitter. When it binds to a receptor, it created a brain boosting nootropic effect.
NDMA and AMPA are the two types of nootropic glutamate receptors. The goal of brain enhancers that target this area is to activate NDMA and AMPA receptors. This allows these receptors to pick up glutamate easier, leading to an improvement in overall cognitive function.
A select group of smart drugs also target dopamine and serotonin receptors. Most nootropics do not only target dopamine or serotonin receptors, but many of them target these areas as a secondary target. By encouraging the reuptake of dopamine and serotonin by receptors, nootropics can improve one's mood, energy level, and ability to focus.
The majority of nootropics do not have a strong focus on dopamine receptors. This because drugs that target dopamine can be addictive, so they should not be taken every day. As most nootropics must be taken every day, this is counterintuitive to their purpose.
Knowing exactly how cognitive enhancers affect your brain can help you make an educated choice as to which ones you want to use. Each neurotransmitter works in different ways in the brain; by combining different nootropics into a "stack", you can enjoy the benefits of several different supplements at once.