Scientists Test a Nasal Spray That Boosts Memory

By Debra Viadero — October 05, 2009 1 min read
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Here’s a dream come true for students doing some late-night cramming. A team of German scientists, in a newly published study, have found that a nasal spray containing a molecule from the body’s immune system can boost memory.

For their study, which was described Friday in the blog “Science Daily,” researchers asked 17 healthy, young men to spend a couple of nights in the laboratory. Each night, the men read either an emotionally neutral text or one that was aimed at stirring up a more passionate emotional reaction. After the reading, the men were given a dose of either a placebo fluid or interleukin-6, a molecule that is best known for playing a role as a signal in the body’s immunoregulatory system. After a good night’s sleep, the participants were asked to write down as many words as they could from the previous night’s reading. The upshot: When participants had been given a snoot full of interleukin-6, they recalled many more words, regardless of which text they had read. Imagine the market for this sort of thing on high school and college campuses! Ka-ching!

Of course, this is a small study and it’s not clear from the write-up how long the memory boost persists or how large it is. You can find the full text, in the October issue of the FASEB Journal, but access is limited to paying customers.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.