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Memory

The ability to store and recall information. Memory-boosting supplements have mostly been tested in older people, whose memory has degraded, but this page deals with any form of memory and any study population.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Summary of Memory

Memory is the ability of the brain to store and recall information. It's so integral to the ability to learn skills, form and develop relationships, and make decisions that it garners a considerable amount of attention in science and from consumers of health products. Perhaps the most critical memory-related issue today is neurodegeneration. As the average lifespan of people has increased, it has become more common to develop neurodegenerative diseases, the most common being Alzheimer's, which negatively impacts memory, among other mental faculties. There are many hypotheses as to its causes, and it remains controversial, but it's clear that damaged and dysfunctional brain cells due to aging are at play.

Even without a full-blown disease, a gradual decline of memory with age is typical, and a vast array of "nootropics" (substances intended to promote cognitive function) have become available to meet the demand for better memory. Even young people, with no apparent decline in memory, seek to enhance their minds through supplementation. This page deals with three instances: in diseases, normal cognitive decline due to aging, and those with normal memory.

Memory is naturally tied to many of the other psychological and physiological phenomena. Anxiety, stress, depression, fatigue, and sleep quality all have an effect on memory. Mitochondrial and metabolic health are also at play because sluggish energy transport and metabolism will likely reduce the brain's processing speed. For that reason, it's essential to be clear about the study population, because the effects of many supplements may only be relevant to people with some health issues, and may not necessarily translate to others.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies to tell you what supplements affect Memory.

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Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Supplement Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Minor High See all 12 studies
There appears to be a fairly reliable increase in short term memory and free recall associated with ginkgo supplementation in older individuals (55yrs or above) either with or without diagnosed neurodegenerative disease states.
grade-b Minor High See all 13 studies
Although the evidence isn't consistent across studies, or tests within studies, Bacopa appears to improve various types of memory (notably working memory) in both healthy persons and during cognitive decline. It's unclear what effects it has in the long-term, as most studies are either 12 weeks long or deal with acute dosing, the former being more reliable. More high-quality evidence and replication of specific tests is needed before we can be confident in its effects.
grade-b Minor High See all 3 studies
Mixed influences on memory, with one study noting a decrease in 'total' memory formation and two studies noting improvements in 'quality' of memories formed. There is likely a modulatory effect associated with lemon balm.

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