Let\u2019s play out a little scenario. You take a \u201csmart pill.\u201d Who knows where it came from. All of a sudden, you are able to learn and analyze at a superhuman rate. You start speaking an array of languages, become a master pianist, and rise to the top of the financial world. Things eventually go south, but who really cares if you\u2019re the smartest person alive.\nIf this story sounds remotely familiar, that\u2019s because it is. The 2011 movie, Limitless, focuses on a drug that enables a person to simply take a pill and become a genius, to the likes of which nobody has even seen. While, this is merely fiction, if you do a search for \u201climitless pill\u201d online, you\u2019ll see that it\u2019s anything but a fantasy. Retailers are advertising a multitude of these pills, and the choices actually seem, limitless.\nBut, there is a drug that new research has found to actually improve cognitive thinking and brain power. It\u2019s called modafinil, also known by its brand name Provigil\u00ae. However, don\u2019t get your hopes up about becoming actor Bradley Cooper and solving some of the world\u2019s most complex problems. It\u2019s not going to happen. But, can it actually make some people smarter?\nWhat is Modafinil?\nOriginally approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of narcolepsy, modafinil has become better known as a nootropic, or a \u201csmart drug.\u201d A recent study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology found that the drug can improve what researchers call executive function, or the ability to sift through new information and make plans based on it. Modafinil was also found to increase the ability to pay attention, and learn and remember. However, the research also discovered that the drug didn\u2019t consistently help participants on simple tests of attention, working memory\u00a0\u2014 how the brain temporarily stores information \u2014 and found it had little effect on creativity or the ability to multitask.\nBut despite all this research, little is known about how the drug actually works, according Michael Zemaitis, PhD, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. \u201cAlthough it has some characteristics of other stimulants like Ritalin\u00ae and amphetamine, there are distinct differences\u201d says Dr. Zemaitis. \u201cIt appears to affect virtually every major neurotransmitter system in the brain, but as to why or how this happens, that is still difficult to say.\u201d Recent studies also suggest that modafinil may interact with orexins, which are neuropeptides that promote arousal and wakefulness.\nThere is another big caveat. And we do mean big. Modafinil is not approved for the purpose of boosting brain power. The decision to regulate this drug for patients wanting or needing its benefits is up to government regulatory bodies, like the FDA. So, for now, your doctor won\u2019t be able to write you a prescription for modafinil simply to boost your brain power. Instead, just eat your broccoli. It\u2019s high in choline, an important nutrient known for its role in brain development. Or, keep pretending to be Bradley Cooper\u2026it can\u2019t hurt to try.