Cortex Generation 1 Summary
I didn’t try Cortex Generation 1 myself, because I think it’s foolish to spend money on supplements that just give you ingredients and no dosage information.
The manufacturer thinks he has solid reasons for withholding the serving sizes, but that does not mean that customers should therefore buy this product, particularly when plenty of other manufacturers do divulge their formula.
Even if divulging a formula exactly made it impossible to make money, that isn’t your problem as a customer. That’s the manufacturer’s problem. Our advice will always be to buy stacks that provide at least a rough breakdown of serving sizes.
Where to buy Cortex Generation 1
Full Overview of Cortex Generation 1
Launched in February 2016, Cortex Generation 1 is supposedly a “revolutionary nootropic”. The manufacturer, Ryan Michael Ballow, gives us a pretty precise list of the things we can expect from taking Cortex on a regular basis.
These benefits include:
- Enhancement in verbal fluency
- Powerful brain energy
- Mental integration
- Focus endurance
- Memory boost
The Cortex Generation 1 website actually goes much further than just listing abstract and immeasurable benefits. We are told precisely what we can expect and why we can expect it.
For instance, visitors to the website are told that “Cortex Gen 1 nootropic also delivers a powerful short term and working memory effect that appears consistent in all of the early adopters/test subjects we’ve used to sample the product”.
If that’s true, then these guys have produced supplement gold.
Let’s take a closer look at Cortex and see if this product deserves my skepticism.
How is Cortex Generation 1 supposed to work?
Cortex Generation 1 contains relatively few ingredients: just four in fact.
The ingredients that it does contain, however, do show a lot of promise in terms of delivering nootropic benefits.
Let’s begin with what I think must be Cortex’s main ingredient: Uridine Monophosphate (UMP).
The manufacturers are correct when they say that this ingredient makes their different to most other nootropics available today.
It doesn’t, as they claim, make it “revolutionary”. CDP-Choline is thought to promote UMP synthesis in the body, and lots of stacks contain CDP-Choline. But uridine monophosphate is indeed relatively rare.
Now, you probably won’t have heard a great deal about UMP because it is rarely found in the formulas of the most popular nootropics. Yet that does not mean that it is any less of an effective cognitive enhancer than, say, Alpha GPC or Huperzine A.
In fact, a mounting body of evidence suggests that UMP might be an immensely effective nootropic substance if used correctly. Much of this evidence relies on animals studies, but the benefits are, in theory, translatable.
What is UMP and how does it work?
Uridine monophosphate is a nucleotide that binds to other molecules to form RNA; the nucleic acid responsible for gene coding and expression.
While the method of action remains unclear, several studies have shown that uridine monophosphate supplementation can lead to significant improvements in memory function and learning ability.
In one study, published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, found that adult gerbils fed a number of compounds experienced clear improvements in their ability to learn, remember, and focus.
The researchers concluded: “These data show that oral administration to gerbils of three compounds normally present in the circulation—UMP, DHA, and choline—can significantly improve cognitive performance.”
The presence of DHA and choline – two well-known and hugely important dietary factors for cognitive performance – bears discussing. DHA is one of the main structural components of the brain. As much as half of a neuron’s plasma membrane is composed of DHA.
It isn’t surprising then that a diet deficient in DHA leads to impaired mental performance.
However, the presence of DHA and choline alone cannot explain the improvements exhibited by the animals in the study. The results actually seem to suggest that DHA is made much more effective by the presence of UMP. As the researchers themselves state: “this to our knowledge is the first study to demonstrate that co-administration of UMP further enhances the effects of DHA”.
Reversing mental decline?
In another study, researchers observed that UMP administration led to an increase in phosphatides of over 20% in under a month. A 20% increase in one month!
More interestingly, this increase was down to taking UMP alone. When researchers combined DHA, UMP and choline, phosphatide levels actually rose by an enormous 45%.
For those that don’t know, phosphatides are the major constituents of synaptic membranes. The more phosphatides that are available to the brain, the more frequently synaptogenesis can occur (synaptogenesis is the formation of synapses between neurons in the central nervous system).
The same study also found that synaptic proteins became more abundant when the test animals were fed the DHA, choline and UMP combination.
As far as nootropic ingredients go, then, this stuff is gold.
Why not just take RNA?
The active component of UMP is the uridine. The monophosphate component of UMP simply ensures that the uridine enters the bloodstream rather than being destroyed by the liver.
This is why we cannot simply consume more uridine through food: most uridine found in our natural diet is in the form of RNA. In this form, the uridine would end up being processed and excreted.
To reliably increase uridine levels, we therefore need to supplement with UMP.
Now that we have discussed uridine to death, let’s have a quick look at the other ingredients in Cortex Generation 1.
Bacopa monnieri: A herbal extract used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years to enhance memory, alleviate stress, and slow mental decline. It has some pretty impressive anti-oxidant properties, and it is being studied closely for its ability to improve memory retention and recall. Some manufacturers are suggesting that it has the ability to improve synaptic communication, but I have my doubts as to whether this is its primary mechanism of action. Bacopa seems to work better the longer it is taken for, which is exactly what we want from a daily nootropic stack.
CDP-choline: Also known as Citicoline, CDP-choline is one of the many substances that you can take if you want to raise your acetylcholine levels. Choline is a biological precursor to acetylcholine, which is a key neurotransmitter for a number of brain functions.
In fact, CDP-Choline is one of the best cholinergenics there is. It not only quickly and efficiently raises acetylcholine levels, but it also has other, secondary nootropic benefits. You can learn more about it here.
Supplementing with choline is not an efficient way to increase the availability of acetylcholine, as it is not properly able to cross the blood-brain barrier. CDP-choline offers a more reliable way of giving your brain more acetylcholine to work with (although in my opinion, more efficient substances exist). A superb ingredient for any stack, if the dosage is right.
Artichoke extract: Cortex Generation 1 is not the only nootropic to contain artichoke extract, but it is one of the few. Many people dismiss this ingredient as ineffective, while others think it is a panacea, but a lack of study means that both extremes are wrong. I’ve written about the promise this stuff holds on my nootropics ingredient page.
Early research suggests that artichoke extract may have the ability to suppress the enzyme PDE4. PDE4 is responsible for the breakdown of cyclic adenosine monophosphate. In theory, this should lead directly to improvements in focus and concentration ‘stamina’.
And that’s it. Any Cortex Generation 1 review is bound to be fairly pre-occupied with UMP since that is its main stand-out ingredient.
That isn’t to say that the other ingredients aren’t effective. Far from it; they have all reliably led to significant nootropic benefits for many users.
In fact, as far as basic ingredients lists go, this is really impressive. I always like it when manufacturers eschew long, complex formulas full of unnecessary add-ons, and concentrate on the most effective nootropics, providing them in sizeable, proven dosages.
Our thoughts on Cortex Generation 1
Unfortunately, I can’t say that I think it’s a good idea for most people to buy Cortex Generation 1.
I don’t think it’s a good idea for one very simple reason:
Since the leading nootropic stacks all provide detailed dosage information, there is no need to buy products that keep their formula a secret, regardless of their reasons for doing so.
I cannot abide supplement companies that do not list their formula, milligram by milligram. Leading manufacturers of all kinds of supplements manage to make a killing while divulging their product specifications, so I think every product should be held to that standard, no matter how compelling their reasons are for not revealing their doses.
Cortex Generation 1, to its great credit, does not really contain any fillers. Unlike other supplements, the proprietary blend will therefore not simply be 99% caffeine or B6.
It is still, however, a proprietary blend, and this site will always advise people to buy products with clearly delineated formulas. Here’s why.
The problem with a mystery formula
You should always review a supplement’s exact contents before buying. You should decide exactly what you put into your body and in what quantity, rather than making decisions based solely on marketing or anecdotal evidence provided by the manufacturer.
Take nutritional supplements like protein shakes, for example.
Imagine a friend comes to you with a tub of protein powder which simply says on the label that it contains “enough protein”. The manufacturer claims to know that this amount of protein is “ideal” (despite everyone being a little different). He spent years finding what works best for him, and that’s how much is in there.
Would you tell this friend to buy it when a plethora of products exist which tell you exactly what you’re getting for your money? Of course not.
Exactly the same logic applies to Cortex Generation 1.
Without dose information, many people will buy into the marketing, buy a bottle, and find that it does very little for them – people who would have otherwise not have bought the product had they known that the serving sizes were too small for their personal needs.
Other people will find that the stack causes side effects – side effects that they would have seen coming had they known that the stack contained a serving of X ingredient that they know to be too much for them.
This is, in my opinion, an incredibly pessimistic way to run a business.
By not allowing people the chance to judge for themselves whether they want a product before they buy it, you’re basically banking on them taking a gamble.
For me, that gamble is just completely unnecessary. Plenty of effective nootropic stacks provide detailed dosage information before you buy the product. These manufacturers have confidence in their formula, so you can too.
Learning from experience
You may be thinking; sure, but isn’t it possible for people to buy a supplement with a totally divulged formula and still be disappointed? Well, yes, of course it is, but it’s still vital to know what is in a supplement if we are to learn from the experience.
Ryan Ballow, the maker of Cortex Generation 1, places a high value on personal experience when judging nootropic stacks. I do too, which is exactly why it’s important to know exactly how much of certain substances you’re taking.
If you try Cortex Generation 1, and it does nothing, you will have no idea why it did nothing. You have no formula to look at and learn from, no dose sizes to learn from: all you will have learned is that a certain amount of CDP-Choline mixed with a certain amount of UMP, Bacopa and Artichoke Extract did nothing for you.
If you had doses, you could say, “well, maybe I’ll try more CDP-Choline next time.” This is part of the process of finding the nootropic stack that works best for you, and Cortex denies you that opportunity.
Why would a manufacturer keep the formula secret?
Ryan Michael Ballow claims to have very good reasons for keeping his formula a secret:
That is a good explanation of why manufacturers might want to keep their formulas a secret. It is also a classic case of question-dodging displayed by the brand ambassador for a nootropic claiming to deliver “mental integration”.
When posed with the claim that customers should be very weary of buying products that hide their formula, the maker responds with a reason why the manufacturer might want to hide the formula. This has no bearing on whether or not a customer should be weary of those products. His response is loosely related to the claim posed to him, but it does nothing to counter it. It is irrelevant.
The manufacturer also claims that he spent a long time, and a lot of money, making the perfect stack, so we don’t need to know serving sizes.
Obviously, the amount of money spent making a formula does not mean that it is therefore going to be effective. People waste money all the time.
The appeal to the time and money spent making something as proof of its value is called affirming the consequent, for all those who are interested: “If it’s good, they probably spent a lot of money on it. I spent a lot of money on it, therefore it’s probably good” makes no logical sense.
There are plenty of examples of logical fallacies committed by Cortex Generation 1’s manufacturer, such as the claim that his status as a “legit guy” means that Cortex Generation 1 must be a good supplement (genetic fallacy), or his repeated use of ad hominem arguments to discredit the opinion presented on this blog (as though personal inclination could be shown to be false).
Examples of these fallacies can be found in the comment section below.
At several points, he simply descends to hurling insults at the author of this post.
He also tweeted us saying that we could keep the blog up, then demanded its removal shortly after. We were also treated to a picture of him in his car!
Clearly, Cortex Generation 1 is not providing him with the intellectual clout it should be.
You can also see the manufacturer threatening this site’s reviewers both in the comments below and on our Twitter page.
As a brand ambassador, I really don’t think he’s doing Cortex Generation 1 any favours.
Side effects of taking Cortex Generation 1
It’s impossible to speak with any real accuracy about the possible side effects of Cortex since we don’t have an accurate formula to go on. All judgments of this nature are relative, and since lots of other stacks do give dose information, Cortex Generation 1 poses a relatively high risk of eliciting side effects.
I asked the manufacturer whether he could give me any dosage information, but all I was given was minimum contents sizes. All I know is that there are “at least 50mg” of CDP-Choline in Cortex Generation 1, which doesn’t help us much here.
Judging by the statements of the manufacturer on forums such as Reddit, I don’t think it’s likely that this product will cause any side effects in most users. He repeatedly stresses the benefit of taking very low doses of cholinergics (so CDP-Choline here).
CDP-Choline is the only ingredient that I think likely to elicit unwanted effects, and it only does so it seems at quite high dosages. I think users are probably safe on the side effect front.
Again though, products with specified dosages are always more reliable when it comes to predicting side effects.
Cortex Generation 1 Review conclusion
Cortex Generation 1 contains some great ingredients, but they’re only really effective above a certain threshold, and the likes of CDP-Choline are only side-effect free when taken below a certain threshold. Sadly, we don’t know whether the ingredients in Cortex generation 1 fall within this band or not.
Cortex Generation 1 is undoubtedly going to be effective for some people. But that doesn’t mean that it represents a sound choice for people looking for a reliable stack, because there is absolutely no way to tell if you are likely to benefit from it.
There’s also no way to learn from this stack; you can’t make a decision on what works for you if you have no idea how much of any given substance you’re taking.
If you want to take the risk, then by all means do so. But I would always advise people to buy a stack that contains known quantities of reliable, effective nootropic substances.