Racetams are a class of drugs that share a pyrrolidone nucleus: piracetam, aniracetam, oxiracetam, pramiracetam and phenylpiracetam are considered nootropics.

Others such as levetiracetam, brivaracetam, and seletracetam are anticonvulsants.

No accepted mechanism of action for racetams. 

They have negligible affinity for common central nervous system receptors, but modulation of central neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine and glutamate, has been reported. 

Some racetams such as piracetam and aniracetam are positive modulators of the AMPA receptor.

Racetams may work by allosterically modulating glutamate receptors, specifically AMPA receptors, leading to Ca2+ influx that is excitatory.

Proposed to enhance memory through interaction with glutamate receptors in the central nervous system.

They upregulate and preserve adequate levels of acetylcholine, suggesting they can aid recovery from deliriant intoxication and other typically cognitively impaired states.

Piracetam was the first racetam ever to be discovered, and also the first nootropic ever.

Piracetam has the ability to heighten cognition. 

Piracetam iracetam is a derivative of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter when it comes to the central nervous system. 

GABA’s major purpose in the brain is to reduce neuronal excitability and has been clinically used to reduce anxiety, treat attention deficit disorder, and improve mood. 

Piracetam is a derivative of GABA, and is believed to be able to exert antioxidant properties, increase blood flow, normalize ATP metabolism, increase cellular glucose use, and stimulate ribosome function and phospholipid synthesis.

Pramiracetam was shown to reduce the cognitive impairments created by scopolamine-induced amnesia.

Oxiracetam,belongs to the racetam family, is also able to affect behavior and cognition. 

Racetams have a significant impact on cognition, but still need to establish the exact effects produced on behavior and cognition by this nootropic class.

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