Aniracetam Does Not Alter Cognitive and Affective Behavior in Adult C57BL/6J Mice

There is a growing community of individuals who self-administer the nootropic aniracetam for its purported cognitive enhancing effects. Aniracetam is believed to be therapeutically useful for enhancing cognition, alleviating anxiety, and treating various neurodegenerative conditions. Physiologically, aniracetam enhances both glutamatergic neurotransmission and long-term potentiation. Previous studies of aniracetam have demonstrated the cognition-restoring effects of acute administration in different models of disease. No previous studies have explored the effects of aniracetam in healthy subjects. We investigated whether daily 50 mg/kg oral administration improves cognitive performance in naïve C57BL/6J mice in a variety of aspects of cognitive behavior. We measured spatial learning in the Morris water maze test; associative learning in the fear conditioning test; motor learning in the accelerating rotarod test; and odor discrimination. We also measured locomotion in the open field test, anxiety through the elevated plus maze test and by measuring time in the center of the open field test. We measured repetitive behavior through the marble burying test. We detected no significant differences between the naive, placebo, and experimental groups across all measures. Despite several studies demonstrating efficacy in impaired subjects, our findings suggest that aniracetam does not alter behavior in normal healthy mice. This study is timely in light of the growing community of healthy humans self-administering nootropic drugs.