Lose weight to improve memory

Memory improves after losing weight, finds new study

Old lady eating fruitA new study has found that memory improved in overweight women [aged 60 or more] after losing weight through proper dieting.

"Our findings suggest that obesity-associated impairments in memory function are reversible, adding incentive for weight loss," said lead author Andreas Pettersson, MD, a PhD student at Umea University, Umea, Sweden.

The researcher team randomly assigned 20 overweight, postmenopausal women [average age, 61] to healthy weight loss diets for six months.

Before and after the diet, the investigators measured the women's body mass index [BMI, a measure of weight and height] and body fat composition. For testing memory, they asked them to memorize unknown pairs of faces and names presented on a screen during functional MRI. Later, the women again saw the facial images along with three letters. They had to remember the correct letter that corresponded to the first letter of the name associated with the face.

Memory performance improved after weight loss, and Pettersson said the brain-activity pattern during memory testing reflected this improvement. After weight loss, brain activity reportedly increased during memory encoding in the brain regions that are important for identification and matching of faces. In addition, brain activity decreased after weight loss in the regions that are associated with retrieval of episodic memories, which Pettersson said indicates more efficient retrieval.

"The altered brain activity after weight loss suggests that the brain becomes more active while storing new memories and therefore needs fewer brain resources to recollect stored information," he said

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