Today we’re kicking off an important topic: Cognitive Enhancement (CE). Mental performance is a key factor in how you feel, how you move through your day and ultimately how you’re tracking toward success in any direction you might aim. We believe there are four primary ways to achieve higher mental performance and in the future we’ll be deep-diving each of these areas.
- Nutrition – optimizing the whole foods we choose to eat and our overall strategy to diet and nutrition has near-term and long-term effects on maintaining or upgrading mental performance.
- Physiologically – well documented are the beneficial impacts of movement and exercise to brain function, mood and promoting a more relaxed and focused state. But it doesn’t stop there. One example is “Priming State”, a concept popularized by Tony Robbins, how shocking your physiology through movement or environment can have huge positive effects to our ability to focus and our health in general; it can be as simple as a cold shower or jumping on a trampoline in the morning to more exotic methods such as exposure to extreme temperatures.
- Training – naturally this entails traditional education as it helps bolster and improve our ability to concentrate, retain information, impart reasoning and draw conclusions; but this also includes new technologies aimed at increasing memory and brain performance. Take for example, Luminosity, the popular app and web-based platform that has executed well on the gamification of cognitive enhancement.
- Supplementation – in addition to nutrition, many people are looking for an avenue to upgrade mental performance, clarity and overall focus through supplementation. What we’re really focusing in on here are natural compounds called Nootropics (a.k.a “Smart Drugz”) that target improved cognitive performance. For a quick refresher on Nootropics, check out “The Complete Guide to Nootropics” by Nootropics.com.
Today we’re going to start the conversation by honing in a bit further on #3 Supplementation – or Nootropics and “Smart Drugz” – by giving a brief background on CE, why it’s important and kicking off the first of many Product Spotlights where we’ll review the cognitive enahncement products, supplements and methods our team has experimented with – starting with CILTEP by Natural Stacks.
What is Cognitive Enhancement?
Sounds pretty cool right? An entire field and movement within the neuroscience community dedicated toward understanding the impacts of human and cognitive enhancement on society has been growing. Much of their research, findings, etc. around integrating theory with practice and actually enhancing human cognition are captured in The Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. Before we wrap our heads around the entire thing let’s level-set on some of the terminology:
Cognitive Enhancement can be defined as amplification or extension of core capacities of the mind through improvement or augmentation of internal or external information processing systems . As the neuroscience community’s focus on this area grows, so will the number of internal and external methods for amplifying our cognitive “feature set” or “capabilities”.
Cognition can be defined as the processes an organism uses to organize information. This includes acquiring information (perception), selecting (attention), representing (understanding) and retaining (memory) information, and using it to guide behavior (reasoning and coordination of motor outputs) . Intervening with cognition is usually geared toward fixing an identified issue or upgrading the processes that surround one of these areas of cognition…
A therapeutic intervention targets correcting a specific pathology or defect of a cognitive subsystem while an enhancement targets improving one of the aforementioned subsystems or processes. Essentially, you can be starting the race a few yards behind the marker and require a fix or you can be, ceteris paribus, a normal person looking for an edge or an enhancement.
Let us reiterate, the list of methods of enhancing cognitive function is growing, and becoming more popular as solutions for everyday people as well as among the ranks of neuroscience practicioners and academics investigating human potential…
Why Is It Important?
We are constantly connected to each other and to the world thanks to digital adoption… perpetually plugged-in and always on. Accessibility and reach, as we always say, is both a gift and a curse. Whether it’s socially with friends and family, politically or economically through breaking news or through 24/7 access to the workplace we are constantly in the “on mode”. It helps promote the hyper competitive environment we’ve become accustomed to. And it has everyone searching for some type of edge…even if you don’t realize it.
In a 2014 study, 1 in 5 Ivy League students surveyed reported using some form of cognitive enhancing stimulant . Today it’s no secret that smart drugs are all over college campuses. But did you know that back in 2008, the popular cognitive performance enhancer Modafanil was voted “entrepreneur’s drug of choice” by TechCrunch? And not surprisingly cognitive enhancers like Adderall, Modafanil, etc. have spilled over to Wall Street and Corporate America – once thought of as more traditional and less innovative confines than college campuses and Silicon valley.
The Ethical Dilemma
Human enhancement of any kind is going to warrant some criticisms. Especially when it’s done scientifically and outside of the realm of what seems “natural” as far as human functionality. On one hand you have bioethicists who believe developing chemical compounds or intervening with the natural way is an absolute show stopper. It even becomes a question of a question of public policy as organizations and institutions try to balance the righ to individual self-improvement with social considerations like authenticity, cheating, equal opportunity/access, etc. just to name a few. And the other side consists of burgeoning practitioners and academics from the field of neuroscience; leaders from the field of “Bio-Hacking”; innovative entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley; Wall Street executives; young professionals; college students. All individuals and groups looking to push the boundaries and chasing to find the next edge; seemingly within the scope of their individual rights to pursue self-improvement.
Cognitive enhancement fits nicely into the construct of the Human Enhancement umbrella being popularized by lifestyle entrepreneurs and bio-hackers. It’s a movement rooted in progress and a force that can’t be stopped to say the least. What’s absolutely clear is that given the hyper-competitive world we live in people are always going to be chasing the edge or the next competitive advantage. The proliferation of cognitive enhancement methods is here to stay for everyone from college students and stay-at-home moms to the upper echelons of entrepreneurs and executives, fueled by innovation and research in the neuroscience community. The team at Perform True believes in the promise of cognitive enhancements and their positive, even life changing impact, on everyday people who are trying to live happier and perform better.
Product Spotlight: Ciltep By Natural Stacks
What is Ciltep? What's It Designed To Do?
First of all, it stands for: Chemically – Induced – Long – Term – Potentiation. Without getting too technical, let’s break that apart.Long Term Synaptic Potentiation, usually referred to as LTP, is a persistent strengthening of synapses in the brain based on recent patterns of activity. Ultimately the process of LTP and strengthening synapses between brain cells is extremely important for two key memory functions: creation/storage of new memories; quick retrieval of stored memories.
CILTEP is designed to support and induce Long Term Potentiation – ultimately our ability to efficiently and effectively store rich memories and then retrieve them at a moments notice. The product also targets what you’d expect to come in a Nootropic or Nootropic stack: enhanced awareness, mental focus and endurance and increased motivation.
How Does It Work?
In order to execute on their design, Natural Stacks combines several key ingredients along with some more common vitamins and amino acids to deliver on their claims. CILTEP is the first product to commercially combine two long-known mental performance enhancers: Artichoke Extract and Forksolin. When combined, they work to do two primary things: First, Artichoke Extract inhibits a naturally occurring enzyme called PDE4 that inhibits production of cyclical Adenosine Mono Phosphate (cAMP), a system for relaying messages in the brain. Elevated cAMP levels are known to further induce LTP and improve memory creation, memory retrieval and overall concentration . Second, while Artichoke Extract works to inhibit cAMP’s kryptonite, Forksolin increases overall levels of cAMP present in the brain to further promote it’s benefits. In other words, a double edge sword for increasing cAMP, inducing LTP and improving memory retention and retrieval. Enhancements to mental focus, clairty and endurance are targeted through amino acids (Acetyl-L-Carnitine, L-Phenylalanine) and Vitamin B6.
Izsights Point Of View
In a future post we’ll be giving CILTEP a very specific review and using it in side-by-side product comparisons to see how it measures up relative to other Nootropics on the market. The biggest thing we’ve noticed about CILTEP are as follows:
- Improved Focus – we view mental clarity as the ability to quickly and easily see through complex details or material. And while it’s hard to say CILTEP has any marginal improvement to mental clarity, it does have an absolute positive impact on mental focus, i.e. the ability to block out external noise and distractions while honing in on the task your present with.
- Improved Memory Retrieval – it’s hard to measure or gauge any product’s ability to “create new memories” as they’re happening or as your processing them as information. But CILTEP does produce a noticeable improvement in your ability to recall memories. Particularly details discussed with a client the previous week, key takeaways from a big meeting earlier in the month or even specifics from research you reviewed earlier that day.
- Improved Mental Endurance – we were putting in fairly long and stressful days at times during our trials. Going from 7am to 10pm got markedly easier with CILTEP and your standard caffeine intake.
**Note that we are in no way affiliated with Natural Stacks or the CILTEP product. Please consult a medical professional before trying this product.