Poor memory performance is not only an age-related problem, but is also a disease-related health issue. Many suffer from memory weakness. It can hit anyone, regardless of age. Poor memory or memory loss can be traumatising and can stress one out. But memory can be improved. Health experts suggest several ways to improve memory. One finding states a good blood supply to the brain can boost brain power and memory performance and other cognitive abilities, particularly in people affected by a condition known as “sporadic cerebral small vessel disease.”
The above finding was reported in a journal Brain by a group of researchers of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and in Science Daily by the University Medicine Magdeburg. Their study suggests that blood perfusion of the so-called hippocampus could play a key role in age- and disease-related memory problems.
The small hippocampus inside the human brain
According to the report, there is a small structure inside the human brain called the “hippocampus” as its shape resembles a sea shore. It is just a few cubic centimetres in size, but is considered the control center of memory. The hippocampus exists twice: once in each brain hemisphere. Damage to the hippocampus is known to impair memory.
What role does blood supply to the brain play?
According to the journals, the study was led by Prof Stefanie Schreiber and Prof Emrah Duezel, both affiliated to the DZNE and the University Medicine Magdeburg. A team of researchers used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the blood supply to the hippocampus of 47 women and men aged 45 to 89 years. The study participants also underwent a neuropsychological test battery, which assessed, in particular, memory performance, speech comprehension and the ability to concentrate, as reported on the same website.
Schreiber explains: “It has been known for some time that the hippocampus is supplied by either one or two arteries. It also happens that only one of the two hippocampi, which occur in every brain, is supplied by two vessels. This varies between individuals. The reasons are unknown.
“Maybe there is a genetic predisposition. However, it is also possible that the individual structure of the blood supply develops due to life circumstances. Then the personal lifestyle would influence the blood supply to the hippocampus.
“The fact that the blood supply is fundamentally important for the brain is certainly trivial and has been extensively documented. We were therefore particularly focused on the hippocampus and the situation of a disease of the brain vessels. Little is actually known about this.”
How patients benefited from the double supply line
Of the study subjects, 27 did not manifest signs of brain diseases. The remaining 20 participants showed pathological alterations in brain blood vessels, which were associated with microbleeding.
“In these individuals, sporadic cerebral small vessel disease had been diagnosed prior to our investigations,” said Dr Valentina Perosa, lead author of the current study, who is currently doing postdoctoral research in Boston, USA. These individuals exhibited a broad spectrum of neurological anomalies, including mild cognitive impairment. “The healthy subjects generally scored better on cognitive tests than the study participants with small vessel disease.
Among the participants with disease, those with at least one hippocampus supplied by two arteries reached better scores in cognition. They particularly benefited from the double supply. This may be due to a better supply not only of blood but also of oxygen. However, this is just a guess,” says Perosa, reported sciencedaily.
The link between blood supply and cognitive performance
Schreiber stated: “Our study shows a clear link between blood supply to the hippocampus and cognitive performance… This suggests that brain blood flow might play a key role in the declining of memory performance, whether caused by age or disease.”
Such findings help to understand disease mechanisms and can also be useful for the development of novel treatment options, she indicates.
“At present we can only speculate, because we don’t know, but it is possible that lifestyle has an influence on the formation of the blood vessels that supply the hippocampus. This would then be a factor that can be influenced and thus a potential approach for therapies and also for prevention. This is a topic we intend to investigate,” the website quoted her as saying.