Nootropics For Learning

Learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught (.. However, this process can be extremely difficult especially when one has a short attention span and is not fully immersed into the subject.

A study was done on the attention on students which was conducted in three different chemistry courses. The students would have a clicker to self-report to the research team about their attention. After each of their lapse, they would press one of the three buttons on the clickers: one button indicates a lapse of a minute or less, another button for lapses of two to three minutes, and a third button for lapse of five minutes or longer.

The results showed that some students began to lapse 30 seconds after class began, following by several more lapses around the four and half minutes into the lecture. A great majority of the students did not pay continuous attention for 10 – 20 minutes during the lecture (..reference)

Interestingly, demonstrations, group work, and clicker questions showed more engagement and attentiveness compared to listening to the teacher lecture. In other words, less attention lapses were made during the lecture when there is a change of pace, along with the chance for activities as it refresh students and make it easier for them to pay attention in class.

However, not all lectures have engaging activities to help students learn. On top of that, it is apparent that many teachers in the education system are not fully immersed or engaged in their own subject of teaching. This makes it extremely difficult for students to learn as they pick up the example of their teachers instead of their advice or content.

Knowing this, are there any ways to naturally increase focus and attention span for learning? Compared to smart drugs such as Adderall or Modafinil, natural nootropics for learning can aid with the process of learning as users will have shorter attention lapses, greater focus, and improve memory and mood.

Essentially, how most natural nootropics work is that it stimulates the central nervous systems by increasing blood flow and oxygenation of the brain resulting in an increase in energy and motivation to help users learn. It also modulates certain neurotransmitters and hormones responsible for the mood to learn and focus in the brain, such as acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, and GABA.

So without further adieu, the top 6 natural nootropics for learning are:

Acetyl l carnitine – Nootropics for learning

Acetyl l carnitine is a supplement that is known for its properties to improve learning by improving neuroplasticity and memory, and for energy metabolism. It works by crossing the blood brain barrier – to get from the blood stream into the brain – enabling it to provide the brain with essential materials it requires to function optimally. Acetyl L carnitine stimulates acetylcholine, which is an essential neurotransmitter known to influence motivation, focus, and memory. It is also known to repair dammed brain cells caused by free radicals, help clear out brain toxins, and strengthen nerves and signal receptors.

L-Tyrosine – Nootropics for learning      

L-Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid formed from phenylalanine. It is known to improve memory, mood, increase focus, and reduce adverse effects of stress. It is considered a precursor for dopamine and epinephrine, which are the neurotransmitter that allow one to maintain motivated and focused. Specifically, L-Tyrosine increases the production of noradrenaline and dopamine which contributes to an increase in attention and cognitive performance. This will benefit individuals who suffers from procrastination, lack focus and drive.

Vinpocetine – Nootropics for learning

Vinpocetine is an extract from the seeds of the periwinkle plant. Studies have not demonstrated Vinpocetine to improve memory formation yet, but it is effective in preventing toxins or stressors from causing amnesia and improving mood. Additionally, Vinpocetine is not fully absorbed but can cross the blood brain barrier easily where it can exert its functions. These functions include enhance blood flow to the brain, neuroprotection, and reduce neural inflammation. It works by increasing blood flood and circulation to the brain without increasing blood pressure. It also stimulates the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which leads to faster learning, higher intellectual capacity, more mental clarity, and reduce brain fog.

Bacopa monneiri – Nootropics for learning

Bacopa Monniera is from the Brahmi plant and is known for its ability to enhance cognitive functions such as memory and learning, and potentially reduce anxiety. It works by regulating serotonin, GABA, and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters linked to mood, relaxation, and motivation, while reducing the stress hormone cortisol. However, it will take at least two to three months to experience the maximum benefits of Bacopa Monnieri. Therefore, it will not enhance the cognitive abilities instantly but rather it will gradually. Additionally, bacosides, the active ingredient in bacopa monneiri, promote synaptic communication and transmission of nerves in the hippocampus (the part of the brain associate with memory), stimulate growth of dendrites, and protects the brain against dopamine receptor dysfunction.

Alpha GPC – Nootropics for learning

Alpha GPC is the most effective form of choline that crosses the blood brain barrier easily. This is due to the facts that Alpha GPC is a by-product of phosphatidylcholine instead of a precursor meaning in the process of choline metabolism, Alpha GPC is closer to the form used by the cells. Phosphatidylcholine helps both with the cell membrane creation and creates acetylcholine when necessary. Knowing this, the increase acetylcholine levels in the brain which improves learning and memory. Specifically, it enhances the intensity and quality of neuron signaling by increasing theta waves. Acetylcholine also enhances the encoding of memories in the cortex and prompts synaptogenesis (the normal development of synapses all through the brain). This improves memory encoding and helps other neurotransmitters to communicate messages. Additional benefits include protects and support brain health by stimulating production of new brain cells and repairing damage ones, and alleviating brain fog and headaches.

Huperzine A – Nootropics for learning

Huperzine A is an alkaloid that is extracted from the Chinese club moss. It is known as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it stops an enzyme from breaking down acetylcholine which results in an increase in acetylcholine. This leads to better memory, mental performance, and improve neuroplasticity. It can also inhibit the formation of plaque in the brain and suppress the release of glutamate. This supresses the feedback excitation of the cortex which makes the cortical circuits respond much quicker to sensory relevant input while decreasing excitatory feedback which can delay memory retrieval. Additionally, Huperzine A can protect neurons from damage due to glutamate, peroxides, and beta-amyloids.


Reference: Bunce, D.M., Flens, E.A., and Neiles, K.Y. (2010). How long can students pay attention in class? A study of student attention decline using clickers. Journal of Chemical Education, 87 (12), 1438-1443.


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