Other names Provigil, CRL-40476
Several systematic reviews have concluded that Modafinil enhances cognitive performance in healthy humans. This wakefulness-promoting drug is one of the most widely used cognitive enhancers and is described by many of the people who use it as a productivity- and motivation-booster. But is it safe? Read on to find out what the science says about the risks and benefits of Modafinil.
This nootropic has no healthy human placebo-controlled studies that meet our inclusion criteria. Negative side effects can occur if used carelessly, so make sure you’re aware of the risks of Modafinil.
Read about the effects of Modafinil in relation to the amount of evidence we've found
Modafinil for cognitive enhancement
The authors of one systematic review concluded that Modafinil improved reaction time, logical reasoning, and problem-solving in healthy young (12-25 years) people. 
In another systematic review, it was found that the strongest beneficial effect from Modafinil on cognitive functioning was a moderate/large positive effect on visuospatial memory accuracy. 
Yet another systematic review, which analyzed data from 3 studies, found that Modafinil was an effective cognitive enhancer for healthy people. 
Some placebo-controlled studies find no beneficial cognitive effects from Modafinil in healthy humans.  This could be due to the psychological tests used (meaning the test measures something Modafinil doesn't improve) or due to individual variance in response to Modafinil (some people may not get cognitive benefits at all from it).
Another meta-analysis and systematic review found Modafinil effective for improving attention for healthy non-sleep-deprived individuals. It was also concluded in this study that Modafinil helped preserve several aspects of normal cognitive functioning in sleep deprivation circumstances. 
The authors of yet another systematic review concluded the following:
”We found that whilst most studies employing basic testing paradigms show that modafinil intake enhances executive function, only half show improvements in attention and learning and memory, and a few even report impairments in divergent creative thinking. In contrast, when more complex assessments are used, modafinil appears to consistently engender enhancement of attention, executive functions, and learning.” 
Except for the possible negative side effect on divergent creativity (which will be discussed further in the risks section), all of these meta-analyses and systematic reviews on the effects of Modafinil in healthy humans have concluded one of two things. Either that there’s a need for more research or that Modafinil effectively enhances many different aspects of cognitive performance (including memory, attention, and reaction time) for many of the people that used it in the placebo-controlled studies from which data was analyzed.
Specific cognitive benefits of Modafinil for healthy humans include:
- Improves working memory (especially in people with low baseline performance) 
- Improves long term visual pattern recognition memory 
- Improves spatial working memory, planning and decision making 
- Enhances visuospatial attention accuracy  and visuospatial memory accuracy 
- Improves reaction time performance 
- Improves logical reasoning 
- Improves problem solving performance 
- Improves convergent creativity 
Other benefits, more related to mood, but still of relevance to cognitive performance, include:
- Increases motivation 
- Increases task enjoyment 
- Reduces fatigue 
- Increases vigilance 
- Improved cognitive control (concept related strongly to discipline) 
These benefits are all backed by evidence from at least one placebo-controlled study, and several of them (specifically reaction time, memory, and attention benefits) are backed by many studies that examined the effects of the drug in hundreds of healthy humans.
Most of these studies have examined the acute effects of Modafinil, but some have found benefits also after prolonged daily use.
If you are a healthy person looking to improve your cognitive performance, Modafinil taken in appropriate doses is likely going to help you do that. But is it safe? Let's find out.
The legality and side effects of Modafinil
Frequently asked questions about Modafinil
Studies conducted on the effects of Modafinil in healthy humans
Last updated Saturday, June 10, 2023