The nootropic and supplement industry is filled with so much snake oil, it’s hard to know whether a product really works. The marketing claims are usually outrageous, the effects lackluster, and the cost exorbitant.
Even when the nootropics community validates certain individual chemicals through anecdotal evidence (like phenylpiracetam) each individual has unique brain chemistry. What works for one person might not work for another.
In March 2017, I had an opportunity to see whether phenylpiracetam works for my brain through a QEEG (quantitative electroencephalography) brain map with neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Hill at the Peak Brain Institute in Los Angeles, California.
Phenylpiracetam works. But in a very unique way.
Directly from the neuroscientist, I now have empirical evidence that phenylpiracetam is a nootropic that can improve my focus and attention while also enhancing flow states and creativity. It may do the same for you.
A Brief Primer on QEEG
A QEEG brain mapping uses electrical signals to analyze areas of the brain and display patterns that may suggest deficits or strengths. The mapping compares electrical activity of the subject to the population average.
Reading a QEEG is challenging without knowing what to look for, which is why neuroscientist Dr. Hill was so helpful throughout the process. While there is some skepticism about the usefulness of QEEG, it is an affordable option whereas fMRI and PET are not.
The process of using a QEEG is painless and simple. I sat for 20 minutes with a head cap and had my eyes opened and closed to get brain maps before and during my phenylpiracetam experiences.
These maps are ubiquitous and affordable. If you’re living in any major city (and even many smaller ones), there are probably operations willing to provide QEEG nearby.
Phenylpiracetam Benefits: Beyond Experiences
My subjective experiences with phenylpiracetam have been positive, which is why I wanted to test it with the QEEG brain mapping. Usually I experience the following phenylpiracetam benefits:
- Concentration / physical stimulation
- Verbal fluency
Based on the research, there is evidence to back up both of these claims. One study found a side effect of phenylpiracetam, which included “psychostimulation” that created sleep disturbances in participants . A similar phenomenon may account for my stimulated feeling of focus and concentration.
A study of piracetam alone (without the phenyl group) suggested healthy adults could improve verbal learning by 8.6% . This might account for the verbal fluency benefits. But in both of these instances, it is still guesswork.
We found some unique benefits of phenylpiracetam for my brain in particular.
ADHD and Phenylpiracetam
Day 1 – my QEEG brain map and sustained task tests suggested I was inattentive at times. The brain map showed periods where my brain were in a super relaxed, drowsy mental state. Dr. Hill suggested it was what some might call mild ADHD.
Day 2 – the brain QEEG suggested my inattention and ADHD behavior was gone with only a dose of phenylpiracetam. Interestingly, the phenylpiracetam didn’t increase my attention per se – it decreased my inattentiveness. This double-negative seems like a minor difference, but is an important neurological distinction. Here are a few (of many) changes in brain frequencies:
According to Hill “[phenylpiracetam] effectively worked like an ADD med for you…”. Given the number of anecdotes within the Reddit and Longecity community, the thought of using phenylpiracetam for ADD struck me as novel.
Here are a few community reports:
“I began taking Phenylpiracetam the day or two before tests to study in early august. I found it to be far more useful to me than my traditional adderal prescription in that the side effects (nervousness, etc) were no longer there. Grades are up, things seem a lot more effortless etc etc.” – nancy_axel 
“It has a mild clarifying effect (I always take racetams with choline because of the monster headache I'll get if I don't). It's not even in the same ballpark as prescribed ADD meds, though.” – Rachel Faul 
“I know those feelings, man. ADHD-PI here…Phenylpiracetam (~125mg) gives me a decent motivational push for most of the day…” – lynxon 
Their subjective experiences (and mine) may be related to the results from my QEEG brain map. If strapped to a QEEG, many of the people above (and perhaps yourself) might say the same thing.
Speed-Accuracy Trade Off
In addition to the QEEG, Dr. Hill utilized a continuous performance task (CPT) to measure attention span and impulsivity.
On day 1 I experienced impulsivity to visual stimuli (explained in the video clip below) and clocked in at 79% of average. On day 2 this number jumped to 105% (better than average) with the phenylpiracetam.
My speed went from 99% to 90% suggesting I traded higher mental performance for a bit of speed. In Hill’s words “you did a really good speed-accuracy trade off… most drugs, most meds wouldn’t do this. Most stimulants would not...”
Phenylpiracetam and Creative Flow
Creativity is a challenging skill to master, but one becoming increasingly important. Whereas machines are taking over tasks of focus and concentration, they have a harder time replacing creative thought. There are biomarkers of creative flow states that phenylpiracetam replicates.
Brain amplitude within the QEEG maps show the type of brain waves, which correlate with various mental states. Alpha brain waves are usually associated with relaxation, but they are also related to flow states. The difference depends on the frequency (in hertz).
According to Hill, my brain went from “slow alpha” to “fast alpha”, which is symptomatic of flow states.
Between the added focus, concentration, and creativity, it seems phenylpiracetam helped my brain and mental performance tremendously.
Phenylpiracetam Downsides: What’s the Catch?
Despite the many phenylpiracetam benefits, there are some downsides of the compound. For one, tolerance is a major problem for most users. Anecdotal reports suggest nearly everyone experiences tolerance when using the substance more than 2-3 times in a row.
Phenylpiracetam is best-used 2 or maybe 3 times per week spread out evenly to avoid consecutive daily use. As part of a nootropic cycling routine, this can work well in addition to caffeine or other substances.
Beyond tolerance, some users experience a jittery or anxious feeling especially at higher doses. This phenylpiracetam side effect ranges from non-existent to tolerable when subtle, but can be uncomfortable when it runs amok.
What’s All This Mean?
There are a few conclusions I’ve come to after the QEEG mapping and discussion with Dr. Hill. While they may be applicable to me alone and specifically in this instance, that doesn’t mean it cannot be similar to your experience.
Phenylpiracetam is a great nootropic for me, which can reduce symptoms of ADHD in a better (or at least more unique) way than caffeine. Whereas caffeine seems to give me only focus, phenylpiracetam provides focus and creativity. Usually, the side effects of phenylpiracetam are less than the average stimulant.
This empirical data is specific to me, but easy to replicate if you desire the same. It sheds a light on a drug that will probably receive little research funding (if any) despite the clear advantages for cognitive enhancement. Phenylpiracetam is worth trying for most healthy adults.
- References (Click to Expand)