How to Instantly Upgrade Your Memory


Nootropics (sometimes called smart drugs) are compounds that make your brain work better. They’re great additions to your biohacker toolbox—you can pull them out on days when you want to be especially mentally sharp. 

I’m a big fan of nootropics that improve memory, especially if you have to give a speech or attend an important meeting. No more fumbling for words or “um’s” and “ah’s.” Instead, you can pull things out of your mental library in an instant and your fluency increases. You’re quick and smooth, which makes you much more compelling when you speak. 

Memory-enhancing nootropics are also great for boosting productivity when you have a long day of work—you can look at something once and remember it with ease instead of constantly returning to it for reference. 

Memory is a powerful thing to upgrade. Here’s how memory works and which nootropics you can take to make it better. 

Glutamate: the Key to Superhuman Memory

Glutamate is one of the most important neurotransmitters in your brain. It’s also the most abundant one: more than half of all your brain pathways run on glutamate. 

Glutamate is your brain’s main excitatory neurotransmitter—it ramps up activity, turning on brain pathways that influence your movement, emotion, learning, memory, and most of the other major systems in your brain[3][5].

There’s a saying in neuroscience that “neurons that fire together wire together.” Basically, that means that when you light up two brain cells at the same time, your brain starts building a pathway to connect them. 

Let’s say, for example, that you want to learn a new skill. The first time you try it, you’re going to be clumsy—you have a bunch of unrelated brain cells firing at the same time. But each time you practice, those same brain cells light up, and your brain begins to build a pathway connecting all of them. With more practice, the connection gets stronger, and eventually the skill becomes automatic—it’s been committed to memory and you don’t have to think about it anymore. 

This is the basis of learning and memory, and glutamate is what drives it. Glutamate is the neurotransmitter that helps build those connections, improving your ability to learn and remember[4][7][8][9]. 

If you optimize your glutamate levels, you can learn faster and remember things better. That’s where nootropics come in. 

How to Optimize Your Glutamate Levels

You don’t just want to increase your glutamate levels. Too much glutamate is actually toxic to your brain cells[3].

 Like most things in your brain, glutamate signalling is complicated and requires balance. You want to keep your glutamate levels in a sweet spot of the right amount, in the right place, for the right amount of time. 

Your brain has the tools it needs to keep your glutamate levels under control, but sometimes the tools don’t work as well as they could. That’s especially true as you get older (which is one reason a lot of people lose their memory as they age). 

The ideal nootropic stack supports every stage of glutamate signalling—giving your brain the building blocks to make it, increasing control over its release, and making it easier for your brain cells to detect it and send the signals that boost your learning and memory. 

When I first started experimenting with nootropics, I was usually taking 10 different compounds a day—and sometimes more, depending on what I was trying to hack—all in specific doses and forms. It took me tons of research and trial and error to figure out a combination that worked. 

Now, however, there are companies that do the work for you. My go-to is Qualia, a nootropic stack by Neurohacker Collective. They take a systems approach to optimizing your brain— instead of giving you one isolated compound that boosts a single aspect of cognition, they provide a pre-made stack that improves multiple parts of your brain. 

For memory in particular, my favorite is Qualia Mind. It was designed to upgrade your long-term memory, focus, reasoning, critical thinking, creative thinking, and motivation. It brings together multiple stacks designed to target specific aspects of brain function and, collectively, provides comprehensive cognitive support.

The idea is to benefit your whole brain system and its dynamic balance, rather than pushing one system to work better at the expense of others.

With Qualia Mind, I never get crashes or short boosts that don’t last. I feel a sustained, powerful improvement in my memory, faster learning, and sustained focus and motivation. That’s the sign of a good nootropic stack. 

Qualia Mind is the most comprehensive nootropic stack I’ve found. I take it before speeches, when I want an edge in an important meeting, or when I have a long day of focused work. It’s a lot more convenient than buying a bunch of individual supplements and taking them together. 

If you want to upgrade your learning and memory, it’s worth your time to try Qualia Mind. I’ve partnered with them to give a special deal to my readers. You can get 50% off your first bottle, plus another 15% if you enter the code DAVE at checkout. Happy biohacking! 



[1] W.C. Abraham, O.D. Jones, D.L. Glanzman, NPJ Sci Learn 4 (2019) 9. 

[2] R.G.M. Morris, E.I. Moser, G. Riedel, S.J. Martin, J. Sandin, M. Day, C. O’Carroll, Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. 358 (2003) 773–786. 

[3] B. Hassel, R. Dingledine, in: S.T. Brady, G.J. Siegel, R.W. Albers, D.L. Price (Eds.), Basic Neurochemistry (Eighth Edition), Academic Press, New York, 2012, pp. 342–366. 

[4] J.Z. Tsien, in: S.T. Brady, G.J. Siegel, R.W. Albers, D.L. Price (Eds.), Basic Neurochemistry (Eighth Edition), Academic Press, New York, 2012, pp. 963–981. 

[5] Purves, Neuroscience, 5th edition, Sinauer Associates, 2011. 

[6] N.R. Carlson, M.A. Birkett, Physiology of Behavior, 12th ed, 2017. 

[7] H. Wigström, B. Gustafsson, Acta Physiol. Scand. 123 (1985) 519–522. 

[8] S.F. Cooke, T.V.P. Bliss, Brain 129 (2006) 1659–1673. 

[9] A. Volianskis, G. France, M.S. Jensen, Z.A. Bortolotto, D.E. Jane, G.L. Collingridge, Brain Res. 1621 (2015) 5–16. 

[10] M.E. Hasselmo, Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 16 (2006) 710–715. 

[11] S. Ge, J.A. Dani, J. Neurosci. 25 (2005) 6084–6091. 

[12] M.G. Blake, M.C. Krawczyk, C.M. Baratti, M.M. Boccia, J. Physiol. Paris 108 (2014) 286–291. 

[13] S.S. Lander, S. Chornyy, H. Safory, A. Gross, H. Wolosker, I. Gaisler-Salomon, Genes Brain Behav. 19 (2020) e12636. 

[14] J.-W. Thielen, D. Hong, S. Rohani Rankouhi, J. Wiltfang, G. Fernández, D.G. Norris, I. Tendolkar, Hum. Brain Mapp. 39 (2018) 2381–2390. 

[15] L.P. Mark, R.W. Prost, J.L. Ulmer, M.M. Smith, D.L. Daniels, J.M. Strottmann, W.D. Brown, L. Hacein-Bey, AJNR Am. J. Neuroradiol. 22 (2001) 1813–1824. 

[16] Y. Wang, Z.-H. Qin, Apoptosis 15 (2010) 1382–1402. 

[17] I. Mody, J.F. MacDonald, Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 16 (1995) 356–359.




Not Harder

Smarter Not Harder: The Biohacker’s Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want is about helping you to become the best version of yourself by embracing laziness while increasing your energy and optimizing your biology.

If you want to lose weight, increase your energy, or sharpen your mind, there are shelves of books offering myriad styles of advice. If you want to build up your strength and cardio fitness, there are plenty of gyms and trainers ready to offer you their guidance. What all of these resources have in common is they offer you a bad deal: a lot of effort for a little payoff. Dave Asprey has found a better way.

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