A beverage with multiple benefits, green tea has inspired a number of research projects in recent years. One of the latest studies on the subject, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, offers additional evidence on how the drink can improve working memory and cognitive performance.
According to various studies, the antioxidant-rich beverage may help in maintaining a healthy weight and fighting bad cholesterol, in addition to improving memory and preventing cognitive decline. The latter benefits in particular were the subject of a key study by Chinese researcher Bai Yun published in Food Science and Molecular Nutrition and Food Research in June 2012.
Eager to evaluate claims of green tea's power to improve memory and to identify the mechanism behind it, researchers in Basel, Switzerland asked a group of healthy volunteers to consume a soft drink with green tea extract before solving a series of working memory tasks. The test subjects' brain activity was analyzed using an MRI machine.
The researchers, led by Christoph Beglinger and Stefan Borgwardt, of the University Hospital of Basel and the Psychiatric University Clinics respectively, observed improved connectivity between the frontal and parietal brain regions in the test subjects who were given green tea extract.
This improved connectivity between the two brain regions correlated with enhanced performance of the memory tasks. "Our findings suggest that green tea might increase the short-term synaptic plasticity of the brain," Borgwardt indicated.
In the future, the findings of the study could be used to assess the effectiveness of green tea extract in treating dementia and other neuropsychiatric illnesses, according to the researchers.
The study was published in the journal Psychopharmacology.
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