You must remember this: Scientists develop nasal spray that improves memory

Oct 01, 2009

Good news for procrastinating students: a nasal spray developed by a team of German scientists promises to give late night cram sessions a major boost, if a good night's sleep follows. In a research report featured as the cover story of the October 2009 print issue of The FASEB Journal, these scientists show that a molecule from the body's immune system (interleukin-6) when administered through the nose helps the brain retain emotional and procedural memories during REM sleep.

" to remember, a dream or reality?" said Lisa Marshall, co-author of the study, from the Department of Neuroendocrinology at the University of Lubeck in Germany. "Here, we provide the first evidence that the immunoregulatory signal interleukin-6 plays a beneficial role in sleep-dependent formation of long-term in humans."

To make this discovery, Marshall and colleagues had 17 healthy young men spend two nights in the laboratory. On each night after reading either an emotional or neutral short story, they sprayed a fluid into their nostrils which contained either interleukin-6 or a placebo fluid. The subsequent sleep and brain electric activity was monitored throughout the night. The next morning subjects wrote down as many words as they could remember from each of the two stories. Those who received the dose of IL-6 could remember more words.

"If a nasal spray can improve memory, perhaps we're on our way to giving some folks a whiff of common sense, such as accepting the realities of evolution," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The . "This is exciting piece of interdisciplinary science, since IL-6 had previously been considered a by-product of inflammation, not an agent that affects cognition."

More information: Christian Benedict, J├╝rgen Scheller, Stefan Rose-John, Jan Born, and Lisa Marshall. Enhancing influence of intranasal on slow-wave activity and memory consolidation during sleep. FASEB J. 2009 23: 3629-3636. DOI: 10.1096/fj.08-122853

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (news : web)

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User comments : 4

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yyz
5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2009
This story seems short on facts and full of speculation. Exactly how does interleukin-6 enhance memory?
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2009
I could do the same thing with habanero juice.

You will tell me the words, or I will spray you with more juice!
krishnam
5 / 5 (1) Oct 01, 2009
brain is poorly understood scientifically organ of body. ofcourse we dont yet understand the dynamics of brain memory . this spray as argued, might increase memory, but it may lead to other unknown side effects later on - who knows ? messing up with brain is not prudent!
krustybean
not rated yet Oct 03, 2009
Statistical accuracy among 17 individuals? Hardly a cohort for such tenuous "evidence." Then the clincher: "...on our way to giving some folks a whiff of common sense, such as accepting the realities of evolution." Sciolism strikes again.