Coffee or tea? The answer may be both, if you're looking to preserve your memory and potentially ward off Alzheimer's disease, according to a pair of new studies.
According to new research published online in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, a team of French and German researchers found the caffeine in coffee has a positive effect on particular protein deposits in the brain linked to Alzheimer's, reducing the risk of memory loss and other cognitive impairments.
Meanwhile, a second study published in the journal Psychopharmacology by Swiss researchers at the University of Basel, found that a green tea extract enhances working memory and other cognitive functions that decline in dementia patients, suggesting it may have promising clinical implications for the treatment of Alzheimer's patients.
"We have taken a good step forward," said Christa E. Müller, from the University of Bonn, who helped lead the caffeine study, which involved laboratory animals. "The results of the study are truly promising."
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Dr. Müller's research suggests caffeine may block the formation of so-called tau deposits in the brain which, along with beta-amyloid plaques, are among the characteristic features of Alzheimer's disease. These protein deposits disrupt the communication of the nerve cells and lead to brain damage, memory loss, and cognitive impairments. Dr. Müller suggested the work could pave the way for a new class of drugs to treat Alzheimer's.
The second study found that green tea extract increases the brain's effective "connectivity" — the causal influence that one brain area exerts over another — leading to improvements in cognitive performance, memory among a group of men who consumed tea before solving working memory tasks.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the men's brains showed increased connectivity between the parietal and the frontal cortex of the brain — tied to memory and learning — after drinking green tea.
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