Researchers from the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China have discovered just how the chemical properties of green tea affects the production of brain cells which aid in improving memory and spatial learning. “There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain,” says Professor Yun Bai, lead researcher of the said study.
Professor Bai’s team focused on an organic chemical in green tea called EGCG or epigallocatechin-3 gallate. While also known as an antioxidant, EGCG is also believed to have a beneficial effect on age-related degenerative diseases. “We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis,” according to Prof. Bai. “We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory,” he further added.
Prof. Bai’s team discovered that EGCG boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which functions similarly to stem cells by adapting and differentiating into other types of cells in the body. The team used mice models to determine whether increased cell production provides certain benefits to memory and spatial learning improvement.
The team studied two groups of mice- one which imbibed EGCG and one control group. The mice were initially trained to find a visible platform in a maze for a period of three days. Then the mice were trained for another seven days to find a hidden platform.
The researchers found out that the group given additional EGCG required less time to discover the hidden platform. The overall results of the study indicate that EGCG enhances memory and learning through improvement of object recognition and spatial memory. Findings of the research are published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research.
Source: Wiley (2012, September 5). Brainy beverage: Study reveals how green tea boosts brain cell production to aid memory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 11, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120905083852.htm