Now, from this study, researchers say resveratrol may help prevent age-related decline in memory, by
encouraging the neurons in the hippocampus to continue growing. In this study, spatial learning and memory formation in rats was investigated.
The rats, aged 23 months old at the start of the study (late middle age), were given either a placebo or resveratrol for four weeks. Both groups were taught how to locate the position of a submerged platform during training sessions, followed by a four week waiting period.
At both the start and end of the study a water maze test was carried out (to assess their ability to make new spatial memories). Control rats, who did not receive resveratrol, maintained a similar level of spatial learning ability throughout the study. However, their ability to make new spatial memories dropped significantly.
The resveratrol rats showed improvements in both spatial learning and memory. The hippocampus, a region of the brain, is vital for functions such as learning, memory and mood. With age, the hippocampus sees a steady decline of neuron development--one of the structural changes seen in the brain during ageing. It is believed the decline of neuron development contributes to memory and mood dysfunction.
As well as showing improvements in spatial learning and memory, rats in the resveratrol group also showed increased growth and development of neurons (neurogenesis)--in fact, about double that of control rats! They also had improved microvasculature (indicating improved blood flow) and less inflammation in the hippocampus.
“The results of this study provide new evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can positively modulate the structure and function of the aged hippocampus,” wrote one of the authors. “The beneficial functional effects included improved ability for spatial learning, preserved proficiency for making new spatial memory, and alleviation of depressive-like behavior associated with ageing."
Further studies will look at the biochemical mechanisms behind the improved cognitive function from resveratrol treatment. Researchers will also investigate whether lower doses of resveratrol over a long period of time would offer the same benefits.
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Source: Resveratrol Prevents Age-Related Memory and Mood Dysfunction with Increased Hippocampal Neurogenesis and Microvasculature, and Reduced Glial Activation
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