A researcher at Oregon State Universtity points to a compound found in hops, one of the main ingredients in beer, improved cognitive function in a group of mice.
The mice were given large doses of xanthohumol, a flavinoid found in hops. Flavonoids are compounds found in plants that often give them their color.
Then the mice were run through a special maze to determine whether they showed signs of improved spacial memory and cognitive flexibility.
“Xanthohumol can speed the metabolism, reduce fatty acids in the liver and, at least with young mice, appeared to improve their cognitive flexibility, or higher level thinking,” reported Daniel Zamzow, with the University of Wisconsin. “Unfortunately it did not reduce palmitoylation in older mice, or improve their learning or cognitive performance, at least in the amounts of the compound we gave them.”
Lead study author Kathy Magnassun, a professor in the OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences, concludes the results suggest the diets of children can have an impact throughout their lives.
“This flavonoid and others may have a function in the optimal ability to form memories,” Magnusson suggested. “Part of what this study seems to be suggesting is that it’s important to begin early in life to gain the full benefits of healthy nutrition.”
The researchers point out that they gave the mice huge quantities of xanthohumol as dietary supplements and caution people shouldn’t start drinking lots of beer to improve their memories.
“A human would have to drink 2000 liters of beer a day to reach the xanthohumol levels we used in this research,” warned Magnussun.
The study is published in the journal Behavioral Brain Research.