Chocolate As Brain Food: Working Memory Boost from Cocoa

Hot Chocolate

Scientists at Australia’s Swinburne University have found a link between chocolate consumption and brain power, specifically the efficiency of working memory processing.

The randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial led by Dr David Camfield of the Centre for Human Psychopharmacology (and funded by a large chocolate manufacturer, although the company had no involvement in conducting the study or producing the results) gave “preliminary evidence that [cocoa flavanols] can help people to do cognitive tasks more effectively,” according to Camfield.

Flavanols, chemicals found in plant foods, including grapes, apples, tea and cocoa, have anti-inflammatory properties and been previously linked to a wide range of health benefits.

Past the age of 40 we lose about 1% of our spatial working memory capacity per year; Camfield’s study involved 63 middle-aged volunteers aged between 40 and 65 years. The participants were divided into three groups. One group drank cocoa with 500 milligrams of flavanols, a second group with 250 milligrams of flavanols, and a third group had a placebo drink each for 30 days.

Camfield and his team then tested the activation of the brain during a spatial working memory test before and after the 30-day treatment period using imaging technology.

“We didn’t find any differences in terms of accuracy or reaction time in terms of task itself, but we found differences in the brain activity,” says Camfield. “It’s suggests that they were processing the tasks more efficiently when they were taking the cocoa flavanols,” he says. “I guess you could say they weren’t working as hard doing the same task.”

If anyone is interested in trying a month of regular dark chocolate consumption combined with MindSparke brain training I’d be curious to hear your impressions.

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