Nootropics, also referred to as smart drugs, memory enhancers, neuro enhancers, cognitive enhancers, and intelligence enhancers, are drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals, and functional foods that improve mental functions such as cognition, memory, intelligence, motivation, attention, and concentration.
Originally in order to be considered nootropic a compound would need to:
a) enhance learning
b) resist impairing agents
c) facilitate interhemispheric transfers of information
d) enhance resistance to brain “aggressions”
e) increase tonic, cortico-subcortical “control”
f) not have the usual pharmacological effects of neuro psychotropic drugs.
Since then “nootropics” has gradually expanded to either be synonymous with cognitive enhancers or refer to the subset of non-stimulant cognitive enhancing compounds with very few side effects and low toxicity.
Nootropics are by definition cognitive enhancers, but a cognitive enhancer is not necessarily a nootropic.
For instance take caffeine or coffee. Long a staple for many traders, caffeine has the definitive cognitive enhancing ability to augment performance on one or more cognitive measures but it not necessarily a nootropic in the strictest sense..