The “nootropic” approach to the pharmacology of the integrative activity of the brain 1, 2


The integrative activity of the brain is particularly related to the telencephalic level of CNS. Drugs affecting learning and memory usually interfere with the reticular or limbic system, and are either stimulants or sedatives. In contrast, Piracetam (U C B 6215) is an atoxic compound which, up to dosages such as g/kg, does not interfere with autonomic functions, general behavior, level of wakefulness, the limbic system, etc. Yet, in dosages such as mg/kg it improves several learning and memory abilities, protects against experimental amnesic agents, facilitates EEG recovery after severe hypoxia and also facilitates interhemispheric transfer (transcallosal evoked potential and learned behavior). Discussion is made on the basis of the particular neuropharmacology as well as on the available biochemical and human clinical correlations to emphasize the selectivity of this compound on telencephalic integrative mechanisms. Piracetam is presented as the first-comer of a new psychotropic class for which the termnootropic is proposed.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bures, J., and Buresova, O.: Applications recentes de la dépression envahissante corticale (cortical spreading depression) à l’étude du comportement. 161–178.In A. M. Monnier, Ed., Actualités Neurophysiologiques, Paris, Masson and Cie, 1968, pp. 347.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Giurgea, C., Moyersoons, F., and Evraerd, A. C.: A GABA related hypothesis on the mechanism of action of the antimotion sickness drugs.Arch. Int. Pharmacodyn. Ther. 166:238–251, 1967.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Giurgea, C., Mouravieff-Lesuisse, F., and Leemans, R.: Corrélations électropharmacologiques au cours de l’anoxie oxyprive chez le lapin en respiration libre ou artificielle.Rev. Neurol. (Paris),122:484–486, 1970.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Giurgea, C., Lefevre, D., Lescrenier, C., and David-Remacle, M.: Pharmacological Protection against Hypoxia induced Amnesia in rats.Psychopharmacologia (Berlin),20:160–168, 1971.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Giurgea, C., and Mouravieff-Lesuisse, F.: Pharmacological studies on an Elementary Model of Learning. The fixation of an experience at spinal level: Part I, Pharmacological Reactivity of the Spinal Cord fixation time.Arch. Int. Pharmacodyn. Ther.,191:279–291, 1971.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Giurgea, C., and Mouravieff-Lesuisse, F.: Effet facilitateur du Piracetam sur un apprentissage répétitif chez le rat.J. Pharmacol. 3:17–30, 1972.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Giurgea, C., and Moyersoons, F.: In the pharmacology of cortical evoked potentials.Arch. Int. Pharmacodyn. Ther.,199:67–78, 1972.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Giurgea, C.: Vers une pharmacologie de l’activité intégrative de cerveau. Tentative du concept Nootrope en psychopharmacologie.Actual. Pharmacol. (Paris), In Press, 1972.

  9. Gobert, J. G.: Genèse d’un médicament: le Piracetam métabolisation et recherche biochimique.J. Pharm. Belg. 27:281–304, 1972.

    Google Scholar 

  10. John, E. R.: Mechanisms of Memory, New York-London, Academic Press, 1967, p. 468.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Konorski, J.: Intégrative activity of the brain. Chicago and London, The University of Chicago Press, 1967, p. 530.

    Google Scholar 

  12. McGaugh, J. L., and Petrinovitch, L. F.: Effects of drugs on learning and memory.Intern. Rev. Neurobiol. 8:139–196, 1965.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Pede, J. P., Schimpfessel, L., and Crokaert, R.: The action of Piracetam on the oxidative phosphorylation.Arch. Int. Phys. Biochem.,79:1036, 1971.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Penfield, W.: Speech, perception and the uncommitted cortex.In Brain and Conscious Experience. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, N. Y. 1966; p. 591.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Sara, S., and Lefevre, D.: Hypoxia induced amnesia in one-trial learning and pharmacological protection by Piracetam.Psychopharmacologia (Berlin),25:32–40, 1972.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Sivadon, P.: Le Piracetam: médication originale at particulièrement intéressante dans les toxicomanies. 5ème Congrès de Psychiatrie. Mexique, 1971.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Sugar, O., and Gerard, R. W.: Anoxia and Brain Potentials.J. Neurophysiol.,1:558–572, 1938.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Wolthuis, O. L.: Experiments with UCB 6215, a drug which enhances acquisition in rats: its effects compared with those of metamphetamine.Eur. J. Pharmacol. 16:283–297, 1971.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. Giurgea.

Additional information

Partially supported by the IRSIA Research Grant No. 1801.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Giurgea, C. The “nootropic” approach to the pharmacology of the integrative activity of the brain 1, 2. Conditional Reflex 8, 108–115 (1973).

Download citation


  • Piracetam
  • Integrative Activity
  • Cortical Spreading Depression
  • Severe Hypoxia
  • Retrograde Amnesia