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Green tea benefits memory

By Jenna Iacurci / Apr 09, 2014 09:53 AM EDT

Tags : green tea, memory, dementia, cognitive function

  • green tea
  • (Photo : Liv Friis-larsen / Fotolia) Green tea can improve your cognitive function, in particular the working memory, a new study by researchers at the University of Basel suggests.

Green tea can improve your cognitive function, in particular the working memory, a new study by researchers at the University of Basel suggests.

The findings could pave the way for promising treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia, researchers add.

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Extracts from green tea enhance the brain's effective connectivity, meaning the influence one area of the brain has over the other. Subjects tested significantly better for working memory tasks after consuming green tea extract.

"Our findings suggest that green tea might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain," Professor Christoph Beglinger said in a statement.

Green tea, native to China and India, is produced from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis bush. Unlike other teas, green tea is made from unoxidized leaves, meaning it is rich in antioxidants.

Twelve healthy male volunteers with a mean age of 24 received a soft drink containing several grams of green tea extract, while others had a drink without green tea, though neither group knew which drink they were consuming. The participants then performed a series of working memory tasks. By monitoring brain activity through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, scientists could see an increased connectivity between the parietal and the frontal cortex of the brain.

Green tea has positive effects against cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to past studies, but the neural mechanisms behind the effect were previously unknown.

"Our findings provide first insights into the neural effect of green tea on working memory processing at the neural network level, suggesting a mechanism on short-term plasticity of interregional brain connection," researchers said, according to Medical News Today.

Despite the seemingly positive results, the researchers remain hesitant to make definite conclusions.

"However, we found a strong trend toward improved performance," they added, "suggesting that our study sample was too small to achieve differences on behavioral parameters."

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