Posted on Sep 25, 2019, 4 p.m.
After examining neuroimaging data from 36 older adults, collaborative research from the National University of Singapore, University of Essex and the University of Cambridge suggests that regular tea drinkers have better organized brain regions which is associated with healthy cognitive function.
"Our results offer the first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to brain structure, and suggest that drinking tea regularly has a protective effect against age-related decline in brain organisation," explained team leader Assistant Professor Feng Lei, who is from the Department of Psychological Medicine at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.
In the past, tea consumption has been demonstrated to be beneficial to human health, positive effects include mood improvement, cardiovascular disease prevention, and to help reduce cognitive decline by 50% among older people in a study led by Asst. Prof. Feng in 2017.
This study involved 36 adults aged 60+ who underwent neuropsychological testing and MRI scans, data regarding health, lifestyle, and psychological well being was also gathered from 2015 to 2018.
Those who drank green tea, oolong tea, or black tea at least four times a week for 25 years were found to have had brain regions that were interconnected in a more efficient way after analysing cognitive performance and imaging results, according to the researchers.
"Take the analogy of road traffic as an example -- consider brain regions as destinations, while the connections between brain regions are roads. When a road system is better organised, the movement of vehicles and passengers is more efficient and uses less resources. Similarly, when the connections between brain regions are more structured, information processing can be performed more efficiently," explained Asst Prof Feng.
"We have shown in our previous studies that tea drinkers had better cognitive function as compared to non-tea drinkers. Our current results relating to brain network indirectly support our previous findings by showing that the positive effects of regular tea drinking are the result of improved brain organisation brought about by preventing disruption to interregional connections,” says Feng.
Next Feng plans to investigate the effects of tea and the bioactive compounds within tea effects on cognitive decline as brain organization and cognitive performance are highly related, additional research is required to gain better understandings of how functions like memory emerge from brain circuits, and possible interventions to help preserve cognition during aging.
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