Researchers are always coming up with memory-enhancing methods, including new drugs, brain stimulation and even radiation treatment. So far, therapies that either enhance memory-boosting molecules or block memory-inhibiting ones seem the most effective and scalable (it seems unlikely that legions of AARP members would be willing to wear electrode-bearing thinking caps, for instance).
In a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the University of Edinburgh report on a new synthetic compound that blocks 11beta-HSD1 from amplifying stress hormones. With this treatment, the body still produces the hormone in the adrenal glands, but the enzyme does not interfere with the production of memory.
After 10 days of treatment in two-year-old mice—the maximum lifespan for a typical lab mouse—the animals’ spatial-memory performance improved, according to Technology Review.
Jonathan Seckl from the University of Edinburgh, who discovered the role of 11beta-HSD1 in the brain, says in a university news release that a life-long deficiency in the enzyme leads to a better memory. The finding could lead to a memory-enhancing compound that works even better than ginkgo. Seckland his colleagues hope to get approval for human trials within a year.