The international team of researchers analysed the influence of supplementation with the vitamin B choline on memory and attention processes in rats during gestation and also in adult specimens, finding that choline is directly involved in attention and memory processes - and helps modulate them.
Writing in Nutritional Neuroscienceand Behavioural Brain Research, researchers led by Hayarelis Moreno from the University of Granada, Spain, reveal the findings of two experiments that together show how supplementation with the B vitamin complex may improve memory and attention.
The first experiment shows that maternal consumption of choline during pregancncy can significantly boost long-term memory in offspring, while the second experiment shows that supplementation of choline in adulthood significantly increases scores relating to attention-holding capacity.
"The results support the notion of a long-lasting beneficial effect of prenatal choline supplementation on object recognition memory which is evident when the rats reach adulthood," explain the researchers - who also noted that chronic exposure to a choline-supplemented diet significantly alters the behaviour of adult rats.
Experiment 1: Long term memory
In the first experiment, published in Nutritional Neuroscience, Moreno and her team supplemented pregnant rats with choline during the third term of gestation in order to determine the effect of prenatal choline on the memory processes of their offspring. Three groups of pregnant rats were either a fed choline-rich, standard or choline-deficient diets.
When their offspring had reached adult age, a sample of 30 was selected: 10 were female offspring of dams fed a choline-supplement, 10 had followed a choline-deficient diet and the other 10, a standard diet, acting as a control group.
These offspring were then tested to measuretheir memory retention.
The team found that 24 hours after being shown an object all the offspring (whether in the choline-supplement group or not) remembered it and it was familiar to them. However, after 48 hours, the rats of dams fed a prenatal choline-rich diet recognised the object better than those in the standard diet group, while the choline-deficient group could not recognise it at all, said the team.
Moreno and her team therefore concluded that prenatal choline intake may improve long-term memory in offspring once they reach adulthood.
Experiment 2: Attention and learning
The second experiment, published in Behavioural Brain Research, looked at changes in attention that occurred in adult rats fed a choline supplement for 12 weeks, versus those with no choline intake.
Moreno and her colleagues reported that rats supplemented with choline maintained better attention than the others when presented with a familiar stimulus.
The control group fed a standard diet showed the normal learning delay when this familiar stimulus acquired a new meaning, noted the team - while the choline-rich intake rats showed a fall in attention to the familiar stimulus, rapidly learning its new meaning.