Does Adderall make you smarter?

Adderall can help make you more focused and alert, it does technically not make you smarter. There’s no denying that those that use Adderall may experience some improvements in mental stamina and studying effectiveness – however when it comes to improving neurocognitive performance (or smartness) it’s much less clear.

Don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty of evidence that those with ADHD get cognitive benefit while using Adderall. However, those who are taking it without the condition get the same kind of mental rush – but may not get the same improvements to their cognitive parameters.

P.S. If you’re looking for natural alternatives to Adderall you should check out our Adderall Alternatives page.

For anything else, you should check out our best nootropics page.

TLDR; If you’re taking Adderall and you don’t have ADHD, it may help your mental energy and stamina – but not necessarily make you smarter.

If you’re interested in trying Adderall – you should definitely speak to your doctor first. Do not take this drug without the supervision of medical advice.

Testing if Adderall Makes You Smarter

Testing if Adderall Makes You Smarter

There’s actually a study by Weyandt and White et al. [1] which tested this. 13 participants who didn’t have ADHD were put through neurocognitive tests over two sessions. During one session they were under the influence of 30 mg of Adderall, during the other session they were taking a placebo.

The results were interesting. Surprisingly, the participants showed no difference in areas such as language and reading recall between either session. In fact, some participants actually scored better on the placebo in the working memory tasks.

The only time the Adderall session showed participants to be more effective was when it came to measuring attention. Most of the participants also reported that they felt more positive when on Adderall. It seems to give you the feeling, motivation and energy to perform better, but doesn’t actually deliver this from a cognition standpoint.

Related: OptiMind VS Adderall

Problems with this Test

Although on the face of it, this seems like a conclusive study that Adderall does not make you smarter, you have to consider that they only used 13 participants.

It is not a big enough sample size. Not only that, the tests that were conducted were unrealistic to the purposes that people actually use Adderall for.

Most recreational Adderall users who do not have ADHD take it to study or for writing papers – areas where language and recall aren’t are necessary if they improve. All that matters is that there is an improvement in attention to keep you glued to your work and actively studying / writing.

Does Adderall Help You Retain Information?

Does Adderall help you retain information or memory?

No, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Although there is not much evidence to support this in either direction.

In one of the studies on Adderall [2] which shows it doesn’t support working memory, 43 participants between the ages of 18 to 35 were tested  on multitasking (remembering a set of letters while performing math equations and then repeating the letters).

In one session they were using a placebo – in another they were using 20 mg of Adderall. The main boost that they noticed was in the brain’s executive functions – participants were much more productive on Adderall but had little to know effect on working memory.

In short, Adderall may not help improve your memory – but it can give you the mindset to be more effective.

Related: Does Adderall make you poop?

Does Adderall make you focus?

Yes. Drugs like Adderall help you feel more alert, awake and focused. It has a stimulating effect which releases dopamine to the brain which gives you a sense of euphoria and well-being.

In doing so, like we’ve found in the mentioned studies, this gives you the energy and motivation to donate more attention and focus to a task. However, it is not without it’s downsides as Adderall can cause a myriad of problems including insomnia, raised heart rate and other issues.


[1] Weyandt LL, White TL, et al. Neurocognitive, Autonomic, and Mood Effects of Adderall: A Pilot Study of Healthy College Students. Pharmacy 2018; 6(3):58

[2] Tselha T, Whitehurst LN, Yetton BD, Vo TT, Mednick SC. Morning stimulant administration reduces sleep and overnight working memory improvement. Behav Brain Res. 2019;370:111940. doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2019.111940

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