Does Modafinil cause brain damage?

The crown prince of smart drugs, modafinil offers uncanny abilities to focus, enhance memory, and increase motivation. Although the media has been largely relaxed about its potential side-effects, novelist MJ Hyland, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, has written a paean to the drug in the Guardian. She believes the risks are worth the benefits. Read on to discover the full story of modafinil’s brain-rewiring.

What does Modafinil do in the brain?

What does Modafinil do in the human brain? Several studies have suggested that this drug inhibits the activity of a gene called CYP2C9. This enzyme is known to be involved in the metabolism of arachidonic acid in the brain. Some research has even suggested that CYP2C9 genotypes may be associated with a risk for developing major depressive disorder.

The exact mechanism of how modafinil increases dopamine in the human brain is unknown. However, it is known that it blocks a receptor that facilitates the transport of dopamine. Furthermore, modafinil’s binding site overlaps with that of cocaine, inhibiting its binding to the striatum. Although these results are promising, modafinil’s mode of action remains unclear and needs further study.

Does modafinil rewire your brain?

When considering the effects of modafinil on cognitive function, it’s crucial to consider what kind of studies have been performed so far. While it’s possible that the drug boosts cognition in the short term, no long-term studies have been conducted. Despite this, many studies have focused on one aspect of modafinil’s cognitive function, such as its ability to improve attention. Moreover, these studies are often not placebo-controlled, and their subjects may be unhealthy or have cognitive deficiencies. In addition, many tests that measure cognitive function have been designed for patients with various disorders. As a result, it’s important to know which tests to look for to determine whether modafinil enhances cognitive function in healthy volunteers.

Aside from its potential benefits for improving cognition, modafinil may impair the immune system. Sleep deprivation and frequent poor sleep both compromise immune function. In addition, studies have shown that those who take modafinil may be at higher risk for infections and illness. This is thought to be caused by reduced overall sleep, poor quality sleep, and a decrease in parasympathetic function, both of which lead to a weaker immune system.

What are the long term effects of modafinil?

To understand the long-term effects of modafinil, it is important to consider the total duration of use. While some users may consider six months to be long-term, others may view a study that lasts four months as “long-term.” In any case, the term “long-term” is subjective and depends on the user’s lifestyle and personal circumstances. But the following are some of the common long-term effects of modafinil:

The research on modafinil is still relatively young and the results are mixed. While it does appear to improve health in the prime of life (up to five years), many studies show that it has long-term effects that may be detrimental to the patient. Specifically, modafinil may cause excessive daytime sleepiness. Furthermore, the drug is not approved for long-term use, so researchers have not been able to evaluate the long-term effects of modafinil on neuroplasticity, structure, and function.

Does modafinil impair memory function?

Researchers have examined the effects of modafinil on memory and learning. One study looked at mice that were given a single injection of modafinil, and compared it to controls given saline. It was found that mice that received modafinil performed better than controls in both memory and freezing tests. These results are significant, and suggest that modafinil may impair memory and learning in people as well.

Animals were given a task called the Morris water maze, which required them to locate a hidden platform and escape from the water. The task relies on distal spatial cues, such as surrounding structures and the hippocampus. While this task requires spatial memory, modafinil also inhibits Pavlovian fear conditioning, a method where animals learn by associating a stimulus with its context.

Modafinil as Neuroprotective

The effects of modafinil on cognition and aging have been investigated in humans. In the study of healthy elderly individuals, the drug showed a significant effect on resting activity in the cerebellum. Cerebellar projections target multiple associative areas in the prefrontal cortex and parietal cortex. These findings suggest that modafinil may help protect the brain from cognitive decline.

While modafinil was originally developed to treat narcolepsy, it is now used off-licence as a’smart drug’ for cognitive enhancement. Modafinil increases alertness and concentration in sleep-deprived individuals, but there is less scientific agreement on its effectiveness in non-sleep-deprived people. However, if it helps older people remain alert and focused, it may have neuroprotective effects.


Urban KR and Gao W-J (2014) Performance enhancement at the cost of potential brain plasticity: neural ramifications of nootropic drugs in the healthy developing brain. Front. Syst. Neurosci. 8:38. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2014.00038

Kim, Dongsoo. “Practical use and risk of modafinil, a novel waking drug.” Environmental health and toxicology vol. 27 (2012): e2012007. doi:10.5620/eht.2012.27.e2012007

Paul Tardner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *