The Internet has countless entries for IQ-boosting drugs, and there are many peer-reviewed studies of cognitive enhancing effects on learning, memory, and attention for drugs like nicotine (Heishman et al., 2010). Psychostimulant drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other clinical disorders of the brain are particularly favorite candidates for use by students in high school, college, and university and by adults without clinical conditions who desire cognitive enhancement for academic or vocational achievement. Many surveys show that drugs already are widely used to enhance aspects of cognition and a number of surrounding ethical issues have been discussed.
Overall, well-designed research studies do not strongly support such use (Bagot & Kaminer, 2014; Farah et al., 2014; Husain & Mehta, 2011; Ilieva & Farah, 2013; Smith & Farah, 2011). Even fewer studies are designed specifically to investigate drug effects directly on intelligence test scores in samples of people who do not have clinical problems. I could find no relevant meta-analysis that might support such use. In short, there is no compelling scientific evidence yet for an IQ pill.
As we learn more about brain mechanisms and intelligence, however, there is every reason to believe that it will be possible to enhance the relevant brain mechanisms with drugs, perhaps existing ones or new ones. Research on treating Alzheimer’s disease, for example, may reveal specific brain mechanisms related to learning and memory that can be enhanced with new drugs significantly better than existing drugs. This prospect fuels intense research at many multinational pharmaceutical companies. If such drugs become available to enhance learning and memory in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, surely the effect of those drugs will be studied in non-patients to boost cognition.
Biohacking is a broad term. Among the others, it can be associated with technologies and methods to boost intelligence.
Haier is one of the most prominent scientists studying intelligence and his book is a phenomenal history lesson on what has been researched in the last 40 years. There are innovative techniques being tried these days, including magnetic fields, electric shocks, and cold lasers to influence the cognitive processes. Some of them may work. Today’s drugs to boost intelligence don’t. There’s no scientific evidence of it.