In the 1960s, as it became clear that gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), was a major inhibitory neurotransmitter, many labs around the world were studying it. A lab in Belgium at UCB Pharma, set out to try and create a sleep aid by creating a version GABA that would be able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB).

In 1964 a cyclical derivative of GABA was created that was able to cross the BBB, however it had no effect on sleep and wakefulness. That molecule, then known as UCB-6215 and eventually as Piracetam, would go on to not only become a commercial success for the lab, but would become the prototype molecule of an entirely new class known as “nootropics.”

This chapter charts the creation of the nootropic concept and follows through the research that led to the coining of the nootropic concept.

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