Improving general intelligence with a nutrient-based pharmacological intervention



Publication Details

Stough, C., Camfield, D., Kure, C., Tarasuik, J., Downey, L., Lloyd, J., Zangara, A., Scholey, A. & Reynolds, J. (2011). Improving general intelligence with a nutrient-based pharmacological intervention. Intelligence, 39 (2-3), 100-107.


Cognitive enhancing substances such as amphetamine and modafinil have become popular in recent years to improve acute cognitive performance particularly in environments in which enhanced cognition or intelligence is required. Nutraceutical nootropics, which are natural substances that have the ability to bring about acute or chronic changes in cognition have also been gaining popularity in a range of settings and applications including the workplace, driving and in the amelioration of age related cognitive decline. Huperzine A, Vinpocetine, Acetyl-l-carnitine, Rhodiola Rosea and Alpha-lipoic Acid are popular nutritional supplements that have shown promising benefits in improving a range of biological (e.g., blood flow, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and direct neurotransmitter effects) and cognitive processes from in vitro, animal and human clinical research. We report here the first human randomized clinical trial for cognition in which we administer a combination of Huperzine A, Vinpocetine, Acetyl-l-carnitine, R. Rosea and Alpha-lipoic acid (called Ceretrophin) vs placebo. Sixty participants (40 females and 20 males, with a mean age of 45.4 years, SD = 12.6) completed either the odd or even items from the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM) at baseline and the opposite odd or even items at week 4 after consuming either the combination nootropic or placebo. A significant study visit (time) × treatment condition interaction was found: F (1, 57) = 7.279, p = 0.009, partial η2 = .113, with paired samples t-tests revealing a significant improvement in mean APM score from baseline to retest (week 4) (t(34) = − 4.045, p < .001) for the Ceretrophin™ group. Improvements in APM scores could be attributed to the active intervention over the placebo, indicating that the treatment improved general intelligence. Implications for improving our understanding of the biological basis of intelligence and pharmacologically improving human cognition are discussed.

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