Peak Brain claims to improve student test scores by 21%; Studies say the answers aren’t so clear

Charlotte Lang

After years of brain fog and a series of concussions in his life, one Colorado State University alumnus developed a product that claims to improve cognitive performance. 

Spencer Curtis, a Fort Collins-area business developer and sales engineer, developed Peak Brain, a product Curtis said is filled with ingredients and antioxidants meant to help the brain do its job more effectively.

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Curtis said he stumbled across the idea for Peak Brain in 2015 after learning about a study by psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist Daniel Amen. In this study, participants were given ingredients that would ultimately be used in Peak Brain.

“The intent is to supply the brain with nutrients that get depleted over time,” Curtis said. “It helps the brain get more of what it needs.”

Curtis said Peak Brain uses strong antioxidants that specifically target the brain during stress.

“The antioxidants reduce stress on the brain through long intense things like studying or longer-term abuse like alcohol,” Curtis said.

According to Peak Brain’s website, the product works by “providing the brain with the antioxidants, amino acids and neural simulators needed to operate at its best.”

Since one of Peak Brain’s main claims is an improvement in test scores, Curtis said part of its target market includes students and young professionals. The other half of the target market is ex-athletes and people suffering from brain fog, a condition Curtis said he used to suffer from himself.

Curtis said brain fog would cause his brain to wander, making it hard to focus.

The intent is to supply the brain with nutrients that get depleted over time. It helps the brain get more of what it needs.” -Spencer Curtis, Peak Brain creator

“The biggest indicator was just that I just felt burned out all the time,” said Curtis, reflecting on his experience with brain fog. “I wouldn’t necessarily be working long hours, but I’d feel very lethargic.”

When using Peak Brain, Curtis said it’s designed to help the brain recover and rejuvenate overnight.

“It’s best taken in the evening a few hours before going to sleep,” Curtis said. “It’s used for a week, sometimes two to three weeks at a time.”

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Curtis said the ingredients work best over time.

“You’re going to notice a lot more positive effects over one to two weeks rather than a single night,” Curtis said.

It’s suggested to take three to five days off of the product after using it for three weeks, Curtis said. This is to prevent ingredients from building up in the brain and causing minor insomnia.

Curtis said people may typically be worried about the side effects of taking dietary supplements, though he encourages people to look at the side effects of many things they take in their daily life, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.

“Dietary supplements in general sometimes get a bad rep,” Curtis said.

Although Peak Brain claims to help improve student test scores by up to 21% on Amazon, a 2019 article by HuffPost explains that studies on the efficacy of dietary supplements have been inconsistent, and professionals question and dispute claims of effectiveness as exaggeration or as a marketing ploy. 

Michael Thomas, an assistant professor in CSU’s department of psychology, spoke about varying studies on cognitive training, a separate but related field of cognitive study. Thomas referred to various statements from the field of clinical neuropsychology that either critiqued or defended such cognitive training, two of which were from the Stanford Center on Longevity and BrainHQ

“The statements agree on some points, especially that companies should be held accountable for exaggerated or misleading claims in marketing,” Thomas said.

Thomas, who has worked on several clinical trials investigating the efficacy of cognitive training and other pro-cognitive interventions such as medications and supplements, said both statements were endorsed by many prominent scientists and physicians.

Ultimately, Thomas cautioned people to be aware of their view of cognitive research.

Charlotte Lang can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @chartrickwrites.