Determining Progress from Placebo
Some of you may swear by certain products and find your productivity and brainpower has skyrocketed ever since you started experimenting with nootropic supplements (and maybe even just a healthier diet/exercise). While this is great, it can be hard to distinguish actual progress from placebo.
It can be hard to double-blind test yourself with anecdotal evidence (i.e. “I felt so awake all day!”) so a good way to see if you’re actually seeing results is to play memory and logic games. One website that I’ve found is www.CambridgeBrainSciences.com.
They have four categories and multiple games per category to test your newly acquired brain powers. The categories include: memory, reasoning, concentration, and planning.
Now, before you go and start scoring high in these games, you should see how you would normally test while off all nootropics. I would probably take at least a week off from brain drugs to let them mostly clear from your body.
I also recommend playing each game multiple times as each game has different rules that can take time getting accustomed to. Once you feel like you’ve got the hang of the game, you can start recording your scores officially.
Even though the website tracks your scores, I would recommend keeping track on your own piece of paper or spreadsheet. Play each game multiple times and average out the score. This eliminates a lot of experimental error and is generally a good rule to follow for most testing.
After you’ve achieved an average for each game in the four categories, you can start taking all your nootropics again. Then play the same games multiple times and average out your scores and see if you’re actually seeing progress!
Unfortunately even this is only so accurate. There are many other determining factors that may impact your scores to be wary of:
- Time of day – some people perform better in the mornings, and some at night. Experiment with both!
- Diet – As cliché as this sounds, you are what you eat. I tend to perform better on a healthier diet than a fast-food diet.
- Game – You might have the best memory in the world, but have difficulty playing one of the games. It’s for this reason that Cambridge Brain Sciences has multiple games per category; there’s no perfect game to test your memory, so experiment with multiple games.
- Exercise/rest – I find that I perform better when I exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.
The best thing you can do is keep experimenting until you find what works for you, and try to be as accurate/objective as possible.