Finally, a Supplement That Actually Boosts Memory – Many Already Take It for Better Sleep

Researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) in Japan show that melatonin and its metabolites promote the formation of long-term memories in mice and protect against cognitive decline.

Researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) showed that melatonin’s metabolite AMK can enhance the formation of long-term memories in mice. Memory of objects were tested after treatment with melatonin or two of its metabolites. Older mice that normally performed poorly on the memory task showed improvements as dosage increased. The metabolite AMK was found to be the most important as melatonin failed to improve memory if it was blocked from metabolizing into AMK.

Walk down the supplement aisle in your local drugstore and you’ll find fish oil, ginkgo, vitamin E, and ginseng, all touted as memory boosters that can help you avoid cognitive decline. You’ll also find melatonin, which is sold primarily in the United States as a sleep supplement. It now looks like melatonin marketers might have to do a rethink. In a new study, researchers led by Atsuhiko Hattori at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) in Japan have shown that melatonin and two of its metabolites help memories stick around in the brain and can shield mice, and potentially people, from cognitive decline.

One of the easiest ways to test memory in mice is to rely on their natural tendency to examine unfamiliar objects. Given a choice, they’ll spend more time checking out unfamiliar objects than familiar ones. The trick is that for something to be familiar, it has to be remembered. Like in people, cognitive decline in mice manifests as poor memory, and when tested on this novel object recognition task, they behave as if both objects are new.

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