Astonishing New Research Suggests Green Tea Could Boost Working Memory
Swiss study of working memory spots positive changes in the brain after subjects have taken green tea extract. It is possible that it could lead to an improved life for dementia sufferers.
Have you ever felt that your memory could be better? Have you ever worried about dementia when you reach old age? If so, help may be on the horizon. The results of a study on the effects of green tea on working memory suggest that green tea could help you.
New research on green tea
The Basel University team say that green tea “could be promising in the treatment of cognitive impairments associated with neuropsychiatric disorders such as dementia” (source: Psychopharmacology journal).
In other words, more research is needed but would be very worthwhile pursuing.
They are not the first to have researched in this field, however, their findings are unique in that they believe they have identified a potential mechanism. Other researchers have produced only empirical results and have not suggested how or why green tea functions in this way.
The Basel team used a small sample of 12 healthy men, with an average age of about 24. Some were given a milk based soft drink containing about an ounce of green tea extract. The rest were given a placebo drink. The group was then subjected to a battery of working memory tests and the brain activity followed using an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scanner.
The effect of green tea on the brain
Working memory is also known as short term memory. It is where information, whether it is visual, auditory or verbal, is stored and managed whilst carrying out complex cognitive tasks. In many forms of dementia, working memory is severly impaired and the brain struggles to make sense of the input it is receiving.
They discovered that the group who had taken the green tea extract had an improved neural connectivity between the superior parietal lobule and the brain’s frontal cortex. This correlated with an improved performance.
The superior parietal lobule is located at the top of the brain, near the rear. Through neurological studies of persons with damage to this area of the brain, it has been discovered that it is associated with the manipulation and rearrangement of information in the working memory. The frontal lobe is associated with a variety of tasks, including reasoning, planning and problem solving (source: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/29/47/14980.full.pdf).
Health benefits of green tea
The health effects of green tea have been investigated widely and many studies suggest it is beneficial in many ways, reducing strokes, blood pressure, cancer risk and many others. The reasons that green has been so well studied is that traditional Chinese medicine uses it for a wide range of cures.
The science behind it is not well defined, however it is thought to stem from the fact that the leaves of green tea are unoxidised. This means that many of the antioxidants remain intact and can be extracted when the tea is mashed and are then absorbed into the body.
Limitations of this green tea study
Unlike most of the groups publishing the results of green tea research, the Basel University group are very honest about the scope and validity of their study. They say:
- there is no significant effect when using green tea itself
- the study sample is too small to yoield definitive results
- since the drink was not pure green tea extract, it is possible that the improvements were caused by another component
Effectively, they see it as just a pilot study.
But whatever the truth turns out to be, even if green tea itself doesn’t stave off dementia, it tastes good!
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