Chocolate may enhance memory

October 26, 2014 6:00 pm
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New evidence suggests that ingestion of chocolate is associated with memory enhancement. In healthy adults aged 50-69, ingestion over three months of a mixture with a relatively high- vs. low-concentration of cocoa flavanol (specifically epicatechin) was associated with about 25% better pattern-recognition memory test performance (Brickman et al., 2014 Nat Neurosci)—enough that subjects appeared to remember as well as adults two to three decades younger. (The high-flavanol group ate the equivalent of about 300 g of dark chocolate, or 100 g of unsweetened cocoa powder or baking chocolate, each day. Most of the epicatechin in chocolate is removed in producing milk chocolate.) High-flavanol subjects also displayed increased dentate gyrus (but not entorhinal cortex) activity. The study was funded by Mars, as well as the NIH and a couple of other research foundations. Perhaps the study will force researchers using chocolate as a reward (particularly in rodent studies) to rethink its assumed role as a motivator (and not as an innate cognitive performance enhancer).

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This post was written by Syngli