Does the smart drug Modafinil actually enhance cognition?

For those who are unfamiliar with modafinil, it is an FDA-approved medication prescribed to promote wakefulness in individuals struggling with narcolepsy. However, recent studies show that this same medication could also help improve cognitive function. As a result, Modafinil is now classified as a nootropic, a clinical term used to describe compounds or supplements aimed at enhancing cognitive performance.

Soon after its initial approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998, individuals who took modafinil to combat narcolepsy started to report feeling more alert, focused, and energetic, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health. Additionally, many of these same individuals credited the drug with improved decision-making abilities, the study further revealed. These findings motivated researchers and scientists to take a long, hard look at modafinil as a potential treatment for cognitive decline caused by aging, neurodegenerative diseases, and other factors.

What Science Has Revealed About Modafinil

The same 2017-study published by the National Institutes of Health noted the boost in alertness, focus, energy, and improved decision-making abilities that many have reported is likely the result of modafinil’s ability to enhance certain aspects of brain connectivity, especially when taken regularly. These findings, coupled with anecdotal claims made by those who have tried modafinil, have motivated countless college students to take modafinil for cognitive enhancement and also as a way to make getting through midterms and finals slightly easier. And it is worth noting that this is in addition to the scores of individuals who have started taking it to help combat cognitive decline brought on by aging, neurodegenerative diseases, and much more. Generic Modafinil and Armodafinil is incredibly cheap and just as effective as the prescription version called Provigil. You can find them for sale at

Can College Students Get Better Grades on Modafinil?

Having established the fact that countless college students are turning to modafinil for cognitive enhancement, the question then becomes, is it possible for these same students to get better grades on modafinil. For the answer to this question, we should turn our attention to a study published by the National Institutes of Health. The study noted that, while there is reasonable evidence to suggest that college students taking modafinil can benefit from an increase in focus and overall alertness, there is little to no evidence that shows taking the medication, in and of itself, can lead to better grades.

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that those who took modafinil for productivity achieved slightly better grades. However, some might argue that this was the result of them being more alert and focused. All in all, it is difficult to say whether better grades while taking modafinil is due to enhanced brain connectivity or the result of being able to adequately study and take exams as a result of improved decision-making, alertness, and focus, which, aside from treating narcolepsy, is the reason why so many college students take the medication in the first place.

Is There a Downside in Taking Modafinil for Productivity or as a Treatment for Cognitive Decline?

Although modafinil is an effective treatment for those struggling with narcolepsy and may offer slight cognitive improvements for some individuals, there are a few downsides associated with taking the medication. According to an article published by Time, a New York City-based weekly news magazine and news website, in helping to enhance certain aspects of brain connectivity, modafinil changes levels of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. While these changes are generally beneficial in that they allow individuals to feel more alert and focused, for example, they can also give way to the following side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

Bottom Line

In summary, there are quite a few benefits associated with taking modafinil; however, more studies will have to be conducted regarding safety and efficacy when it comes to long-term use in treating anything other than narcolepsy.