Friday, 1 August 2008

Memory research round up - Cholesterol

Over the past month I've managed to collect an interesting range of research snippets relating to memory and cognition. There's definitely a sense of acceleration of activity in this area, which unfortunately also brings with it its own hype and hysterical headlines.

Over the next few posts I'll summarise the ones that most caught my eye:

Cholesterol and Memory

People with high levels of cholesterol of the HDL variety (high-density lipoprotein) did better on memory tests than those with lower levels. The UK research checked the levels of 3,600 British civil servants and gave them memory tests at an average age of 55 and then again at 61. The tests involved reading a list of 20 words and then asked to write down as many as they could remember within 2 minutes (I'm guessing they didn't use Brain Training on the Nintendo DS for this task).

Apparently, not only did those with higher HDL do better, but those whose HDL levels declined between tests also saw a decline in their performance.

This research is part of a long term "Whitehall II" study that started in 1985 and has been following over 10,000 male and female London-based members of the British Civil Service. The participants have regular clinical exams and periodically fill in questionnaires.

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