It is a guarantee that every person is this world has faced some type of writer’s block, mental hardship, or overall brain fatigue at one point or another.  Everyone has struggled to write an essay for a class, given up on studying because of an inability to focus, or failed to meet a deadline because of stress.  An interesting idea commonly thrown around in popular movies and television shows is that humans only use about 10-20% of their brain at any given time.  While I cannot attest to the validity of that percentage, my point is this; is there a substance out there that can enable us access all of our brain? This question came to mind after watching the 2011 thriller “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper.  In the film, Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Mora, a dead-beat writer with a book deal, a drinking problem, and nothing to write about. For four months Mora attempted to write his novel and had yet to get a word on paper, but things changed when he was given a small, clear tablet of a “wonder drug” called NZT; a pill that lasts all day and enables a person to access 100% of his/her brain.  Mora feels the effects of NZT nearly immediately, no high or wiry feeling, but a clear, focused, determination.  In the span of a few days Mora redesigns his apartment, helps a law student pass key exams with no prior knowledge of politics and finishes his novel. By the end of week two Mora is raking in cash trading stocks and has landed a job as a Wall Street trading consultant.  By movie’s end Mora has grown far smarter than his former Wall Street bosses, found a way to nullify the negative effects of NZT, and has become a member of the United States senate with presidential aspirations.  Obviously I realized after watching “Limitless” that Hollywood undoubtedly dramatized much of the movie, but I wondered if a similar drug actually existed and if the drug could provide any similar effects, even if nowhere near as strong.

As it turns out, Nuvigil (a prescription drug commonly used in the treatment of narcolepsy) is commonly used (abused) by individuals to increase energy, alertness, focus, attention span, and brain activity and has become a popular study/work drug. In the article I read ( the writer takes Nuvigil (essentially the closest readily available relative to a pill like NZT) for five days straight and documents the effects.  Off the bat, the writer notes that Nuvigil is known to have serious side effects, ranging from mouth blisters and vomiting to suicidal thoughts and depression, none of which he experiences personally after taking the pills.  However, while admitting the drug made him “relentlessly focused”, the writer did suffer from unexpected side effects, saying 10 pushups seemed like an impossible task, waiting minutes for an elevator was an easy choice rather than taking the stairs, and he constantly felt as if “nothing was good and nothing was bad.” After analyzing the article “I spent a week on Nuvigil, the drug from ‘Limitless’” in relation to the film “Limitless” I remain firm in the stance I had before reading the article, that a drug at powerful as NZT is nothing but Hollywood movie magic, and that a few cups of coffee and a clear head can provide a person with all he or she needs to power through and complete the task at hand.

3 thoughts on “Limitless: Can a drug enable access to 100% of the brain?

  1. dcd5251

    This article was incredibly interesting. I remember the first time I watched “Limitless” it blew my mind. It got me asking questions like “what if we could actually use 100% of our brain?”. I think that the drug Nuvigil should be banned all together. Although it may give a person a serious focus to the point where they can do whatever they want, the side effects just are not worth it. I believe that depression is one of the worst things a human can have other than cancer. Always having extreme sadness is terrible and any drug or medicine that has a side effect of depression i don’t want any part of it. Here is an article that talks about the effects of depression on the brain

  2. jrg5625

    I find your post really interesting. I am someone that drinks coffee when I need that extra boost to keep me going throughout the day. I don’t really believe in pills that can allow you to access more of your brain. I think the right diet and exercise to keep someone healthy will vastly improve their ability to focus and have more energy to be productive and get things done. Most medicines to me seem like they do more harm than good- many prescription drugs have side effect lists that shy several people away from taking them. Here’s a link to a very interesting article I’ve read regarding this topic:

  3. Candace Burke

    This is a very interesting idea if there could be a drug similar to the one in the movie. I really want to see that movie now too! While I was reading your post I was thinking, if everyone could use 100% of their brain and can retain information very quickly and easily, how would we be able to differentiate who is smart and who is not. By using 100% of your brain all of the time, everyone would be on the same level of knowledge and there would be no diversity between people’s thoughts.

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