A compound found in red grapes, red wine, peanuts and some berries may help prevent age-related decline in memory, says a study led by an Indian-origin scientist.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant that may have positive effects on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is critical to functions such as memory, learning and mood, the researchers said.
"The results of the study were striking," said Ashok Shetty, professor at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.
Because both humans and animals show a decline in cognitive capacity after middle age, the findings may have implications for treating memory loss in the elderly.
Resveratrol may even be able to help people afflicted with severe neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, the study suggested.
"The study provides novel evidence that resveratrol treatment in late middle age can help improve memory and mood function in old age," said Shetty who obtained his Ph D degree in neuroscience from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi in 1990.
Treatment with resveratrol had apparent benefits in terms of learning, memory and mood function in aged rats.
The growth and development of neurons approximately doubled in the rats given resveratrol compared to the control rats, Shetty said.
"Both spatial learning and memory improved in the resveratrol-treated rats," he noted.
The study appeared in the journal Scientific Reports.