CogniFit's Science blog: Can Nicotine Actually Improve Brain Function And Memory For Elders?

Can Nicotine Actually Improve Brain Function And Memory For Elders?

Every aspect of the brain is truly fascinating. It is a highly complex piece of the human body and the overall brain function is dumbfounding. A surprising new study has revealed that nicotine could improve and normalize a failing memory in elders. This is just one more example of how different applications could help the brain stay sharp.

Time and time again you will read about the negative implications tobacco can have on the body. Chemical-laden products like cigarettes can cause cancer and kills millions every year. It goes without saying this is a difficult addiction which seriously harms millions of individuals every year.

However, new studies show there can actually be health benefits that come from nicotine. A study at Stanford displayed that nicotine can actually boost the growth of new blood vessels and can potentially lead to novel treatments for poor circulation in diabetics. Scientists at Duke University concluded that nicotine patches can help with depression.

So how does this all relate to the mind and brain function? A new study published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology exclaims that nicotine from tobacco can improve mild memory loss in older adults. It may sound nuts, but the research and data is there to prove it.

There have been studies before that showed nicotine can help improve memory and attention span in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Being that nicotine stimulates receptors in the brain function that are crucial to thinking and memory skills, this should be no surprise to people.

However, the new study dug deeper to find out whether or not nicotine could help people with mild cognitive impairment. This is a stage before dementia when mild memory or thinking problems occur, but complete disability is not there.

The study that was conducted at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine took 74 research subjects with an average age of 76 who had mild cognitive impairment who did not smoke. Half received a 15 mg. nicotine patch daily for six months while the others received a placebo.

The findings were quite startling at the end of the six months. The placebo group’s mental abilities did decrease by 26 percent over the period of time while the nicotine-treated group regained 46 percent of normal performance for age on long-term memory.

No serious side effects were found in the people that did receive the nicotine patch. As a result, the research has led to further tests being conducted using nicotine to test brain function and how it can potentially rid people with early signs of memory loss.