Thursday, April 30, 2009

Consumption of Dietary Fats Triggers Strong Memory Formation

Quick: Can you remember when and where you consumed your last fatty meal? What was the context surrounding it? According to a new study, the memory of the experience should be pretty well burned in your brain. For some, this may result in feelings of guilt, but for others, it only leaves them wanting more, AKA cravings.

Researchers at the University of California-Irvine have found that when fats are digested in the upper part of the small intestine, they are converted into a compound called oleoylethanolamide (OEA ), which is involved in memory consolidation in the brain. Translation: Stronger, more emotionally-charged memories are created when you eat fatty foods.

On the one hand, OEA is great because it also sends hunger-curbing signals to the brain and can aid in weight loss, but on the flip side, the strong memories that are created when eating fatty foods can keep you coming back for more at another point in time. In an evolutionary sense, this was beneficial since early humans were able to remember when and where they were able to obtain a fatty, calorie-dense meal which helped them survive. Nowadays, with an abundance of fatty foods available at an arm's reach, this feat of nature is not such a great thing.

Looking on the bright side, researchers are looking into the possibility of isolating OEA for use in memory-enhancement in individuals with Alzheimer's disease, memory loss or dementia, and also as an appetite suppressant to aid in weight loss.


Cliff Peskin said...

So interesting. I tried this game and totally remember my last fatty meal - so clearly!
It was 2 lamb chops filled with fat that i fried quickly in oil on my stove before going out Friday night.