Studies: Methylene blue can improve our memory

Studies: Methylene blue can improve our memory

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Study: drug improves our short-term memory and attention
Physicians are always looking for ways and means to improve our memory and attention. Usually the drug methylene blue is used to treat a condition called methaemoglobinaemia. However, researchers have now found that low doses of methylene blue actually improve memory.

Scientists from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Texas at Austin found that methylene blue helps our brain remember better. Even small doses of the drug can improve memory and attention performance. The experts published the results of their study in the journal "Radiology".

What is methylene blue and what is it usually used for?
You have probably never heard of the drug methylene blue in your life. But methylene blue has been used by medical professionals for almost a century to treat a condition called methaemoglobinaemia. With this disease, there is an increased concentration of methaemoglobin (Met-Hb) in the blood, the experts explain. Hemoglobin in our red blood cells is used to transport oxygen in the blood. In the case of methaemoglobinaemia, hemoglobin is converted into the inoperable methaemoglobin. As a result of this process, it is no longer available for oxygen transport, the researchers say.

Doctors used MRI scans to examine the subjects' brain activity
A small study has now examined the impact of methylene blue on human memory. To this end, doctors administered either a single low dose of methylene blue or a placebo to 26 subjects. Then, with the help of MRIs, the doctors analyzed the brain activity of the participants while they had to perform tasks related to attention and memory.

Past animal studies also showed an improvement in memory
Animal studies had shown in the 1970s that a single low dose of methylene blue improved rodent memory. The neuronal changes in our brains that improve memory are not researched at the time, explains lead author Dr. Timothy Q. Duong from the University of Texas. The Texas researchers were the first to study the effect of methylene blue on the human brain.

Increased MRI activity noted in attention and memory tasks
The results of the study showed an increase in MRI activity during ongoing attention and short-term memory tasks, the doctors say. In addition, a seven percent increase in memory recall activities was found when subjects had previously taken methylene blue, the scientists add.

The benefits of methylene blue need to be examined more closely in larger studies
The newly gained knowledge comes from a very small study. Larger studies are now required in the future to better understand the potential benefits for our memory and attention, the researchers explain. Our work is certainly a good basis for future studies on the effects of methylene blue on healthy aging, cognitive impairment and dementia, says Dr. Duong. (as)

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