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Modafinil Enhances Cognitive Performance

Research conducted by, Paul Gerrard1 and Robert Malcolm2. I have summarise this article for easy reading.


In this review  Paul Gerrard1 and Robert Malcolm2 summarize and discuss published research on modafinil’s neural, cytoprotective, and cognitive effects.Also suggested is the neurocognitive mechanisms responsible for modafinil’s cognitive enhancing effects.

Modafinil primary use is for the treatment of sleep disorders & clinical trials are under way for it’s use in stimulate addiction.

Previous studies have shown that modafinil has antioxidative and neuroprotective effects.


Modafinil works that we know. How it works exactly that we don’t.

In 1998 modafinil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of narcolepsy.

A decade later there is evidence showing that it is effective for treating several sleep disorders

There are ongoing clinical trials for its use in;

  • fatigue
  • cocaine addiction
  • attention deficit disorder
  • depression
  • seasonal affective disorder
  • bipolar depression
  • nicotine addiction
  • and schizophrenia

Preclinical evidence indicates possible use in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

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Discussion on Modafinil Effects

It is clear that modafinil has noteworthy neuroprotective effects as well that involve some sort of antioxidative process.

While these effects may be coincidental to modafinil’s wake-promoting effects, the role of the ATP breakdown product adenosine in homeostatic sleep regulation is at least suggestive that modafinil’s neuroprotective effects are not irrelevant to the consideration of modafinil’s wake-promoting effects.

It a possibility that modafinil could directly act on enzymes in the brain’s free-radical scavenging system

(eg, glutathione peroxidase or superoxide dismutase) to directly reduce free-radical levels.

Because, reactive oxygen species feed back positively on the mitochondrion to reduce ATP production and possibly enhance free radical production.

Conclusion of some recent studies

A number of studies testing modafinil’s effects on neurocognitive functioning tend to confirm that

modafinil enhances cognitive performance in healthy volunteers, especially with regards to executive function.
Research showed that modafinil did improve neurocognitive performance.

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The bulk of research into modafinil’s wake-promoting mechanism has focused mostly on possible extracellular activities of modafinil.

Paul Gerrard1 and Robert Malcolm2 propose that more work be done on examining potential intracellular mechanisms of modafinil and finding a point of convergence of modafinil’s stimulant and neuroprotective effects.

It is likely that modafinil both enhances cellular metabolism and reduces free-radicals in neurons

Reduction in brain oxidation or an increase in cortical creatine could promote vigilance

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