Abstract The cognition-enhancing properties of deramciclane (N,N-dimethyl-2-([(1R,4R,6 S)-1,7,7-trimethyl-6-phenyl-6-bicyclo[2.2.1]heptanyl]oxy)ethanamine) and memantine (3,5-dimethyl-tricyclo[184.108.40.206 3,7]decylamine-3,5-dimethyladamantan-1-amine) were evaluated in the novel object recognition (OR) test in the rat, while their effect in comparison with other N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor blockers such us MK-801 ([+]-5-methyl-10,11-dihydro-5H-dibenzocyclohepten-5,10-imine maleate) and CPP ([+/−]-3-(2-carboxypiperazin-4-yl)propyl-1-phosphonic acid) on NMDA-evoked spreading depression (SD) was investigated in the chicken retina, in vitro. In the OR test, pretreatment of rats with either deramciclane (30 mg/kg p.o.) or memantine (10 and 30 mg/kg, p.o.) resulted in preference for the novel object, compared to the familiar one, indicating procognitive activity of the compounds. In the in vitro studies memantine (10–30 M), or deramciclane (30–100 M) as well as CPP (0.1–1 M), MK-801 (0.3–1 M), concentration-dependently inhibited NMDA evoked SD. Furthermore, the inhibitory effect of memantine, deramciclane and MK-801 was activity-dependent. These results support the role of NMDA receptors in the procognitive effect of deramciclane.