CAMBRIDGE (UK) – The link between memory and diet. Another scientific finding that explains how memory could be penalized if we do not pay attention to the way we eat. Researchers of the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge have found a link between high body mass index (BMI) and poor performance in an episodic memory test. The preliminary study was published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.
Scientific study of the effects of being overweight on memory
Researchers studied 50 participants aged between 18 and 35, with body mass indexes (BMI) ranging from 18 to 51: a BMI between 18 and 25 is considered healthy, between 25 and 30 overweight, and over 30 obese. The subjects took part in a memory test known as “the treasure hunt” in which they were asked to hide objects in a complex setting (for example a desert with palm trees). After two days they were asked to remember where and when they had hidden them. Overall the team with the highest BMI performed least well in relation to memory and recall.
The relationship between weight and memory
Scientists sustain that the results seem to suggest that structural and functional changes in the brain in subjects with a high body mass index could be linked to a reduced ability to form and/or recall episodic memories. This tendency, noted in the young people who took part in the study, shows that it can lead to an increase in cognitive deficits linked to obesity in adulthood. Lucy Cheke, a member of the research team, commented, “Understanding what makes us eat and how we instinctively adjust our behaviour in relation to food is becoming increasingly important in view of the increasing numbers of obese people. To a certain extent hunger and satiety are regulated by hormonal balance, but psychological factors play an important role. We tend to eat more when we are distracted (watching television or at work) but also ‘to comfort ourselves’ when we are down.”
The importance of hydration for cognitive functions
In an earlier article we pointed out how hydration, in addition to maintaining a constant body temperature, improves muscular recovery after a strenuous workout and also how important it is for the proper functioning of the brain. Drinking adequate amounts of water is the first step to optimizing cognitive performance.
by Alessandro Michielli