Green Tea
Green tea. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Green tea has a few chemical properties that can improve memory power and spatial learning, researchers from the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China, have found.

"Green tea is a popular beverage across the world. 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," said Professor Yun Bai, researcher at the Third Military Medical University.

The researchers analysed the organic chemical, epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG) a key property found in green tea. While EGCG is a known anti-oxidant, researchers believe it can also have a beneficial effect against age-related degenerative diseases.

Researchers claim that ECGC boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which like stem cells can adapt, or split into various types of cells. The team then used laboratory mice to discover if this increased cell production gave an advantage to memory or spatial learning.

"We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis. We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory," said Bai.

To know the effectiveness of EGCG chemical, researchers conducted a study on mice. They gave one group of mice the EGCG chemical while the other did not receive EGCG. Then the mice were made to train for three days to find a visible platform in their maze and later they were trained for seven days to find a hidden platform

The study found that the ECGC-treated mice took less time to find the hidden platform, according to the findings published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research journal.

Overall the results revealed that EGCG enhances learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory.

"We have shown that the organic chemical EGCG acts directly to increase the production of neural progenitor cells, both in glass tests and in mice. This helps us to understand the potential for EGCG, and green tea which contains it, to help combat degenerative diseases and memory loss," said Bai.