A new study has found that a compound found in chocolate and tea can help reverse the effects of age related memory loss. The research proposed that the compound intensified the connectivity and, consequently, the flow of blood in a part of the brain that was vital to retention of memories, stated scientists.
The research report was printed Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience and partially funded by a chocolate company. It stated that flavanols reversed slight memory loss in mature adults. The researchers used both memory tests and brain scans to perform the study. It also was built on earlier work that showed flavanols taken out of cocoa beans had enriched the neuronal links in the brains of mice.
However, before anyone goes to pick up a candy bar, he or she needs to know that scientists working on the study wanted the public to know that the compound was only found in chocolate in tiny amounts when compared with the amount that was used in the research study. So if one attempted to gobble down extreme amounts of chocolate because of the sake of health and the improvement of the memory, it could easily go wrong.
The new report offered the first actual evidence that memory declined with age due to changes in a certain area of the human brain called the dentate gyrus. It is a part of the hippocampus. Preceding studies had revealed a possible link was there in this area of the brain and regular, memory loss that was related to advancing age, but the brand new study affirmed the connection was present.
This report established that this area of the brain was the true anatomical home of age-connected loss of memory. The study also gave scientists even more proof that a healthy lifestyle and good diet can help raise the flow of blood to the brain. That also can aid in slowing down or even reversing age memory loss.
The study included nearly 40 healthy individuals ranging in age from 50 to 70. It was by chance that they were given either a high flavanol diet where they took in 900 mg each day or a low flavanol diet of 10 mg each day. Each subject had brain scans, which took measurements of the volume of blood inside the dentate gyrus. They also were given memory tests to take in order to calculate the diet’s effect.
Scientists explained that if an individual had the memory of a typical 60-year-old person when he or she began the research study, after about three months, that particular person, on average, would then have the memory of a 30-year-old person. However, the scientists stated that much more work was needed to be done due to the study’s tiny sample size.
The compound seemed to improve the metabolic action in the dentate gyrus. The aging process seemed to lessen the connections between neurons in that region of the brain. However, this was not connected to the severe memory loss that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. The majority of chocolate making today take out most of the flavanols in cocoa. However, the chocolate producer Mars created a flavanol drink that was precisely intended for the study.
By Kimberly Ruble
Photo by John Loo – Flickr License