Surgery News

Chocolate good for the memory!

August 10, 2015

The chemical epicatechin is also found in cocoa, tea, grapes and blueberries and the researchers believe it improves the blood flow in the brain especially in combination with extra exercise.

The study is not the first to suggest a link between 'flavanol' chemicals in certain foods and health benefits; other studies have also suggested that cardiovascular health can be improved by including them in the diet.

The researchers, led by Dr. Henriette van Praag, worked with the chocolate company Mars and compared mice fed a typical diet with those fed a diet supplemented with epicatechin.

Half the mice in each group were allowed to run on a wheel for two hours each day and then, a month later, were trained to find a platform hidden in a pool of water.

The researchers found that those that both exercised and ate the epicatechin diet remembered the location of the platform longer than the other mice; the epicatechin-fed mice who did not exercise also showed enhanced memory, but to a lesser degree.

The researchers say the mice on the special diet appeared to have greater blood vessel growth in certain parts of their brain, along with more mature brain nerve cells.

The scientists say epicatechin can improve the memory of mice and the research could lead to further tests to see if epicatechin also works on humans.

Nutritionists however caution that chocolate should be eaten in small amounts as it is also high in fat and sugar, which may well undermine any potential benefits.

They recommend people eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, with just a small amount of chocolate.

Van Praag and her team say the study is good news for those researching neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and the cognitive disorders related to aging.

Dr. Praag says the next step will be to study the effects of epicatechin on memory and brain blood flow in older animals and then humans, in combination with mild exercise.

The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Epilepsy surgery can benefit patients who have seizures associated with structural brain abnormalities, such as benign brain tumors and cortical dysplasia, malformations of blood vessels (such as arteriovenous malformations and cavernous angiomas), the genetic disorder tuberous sclerosis, and strokes. The goal of epilepsy surgery is to identify an abnormal area of brain cortex from which the seizures originate and remove it without causing any major functional impairment.

Surgery is most commonly performed to treat partial epilepsy, since only one area of the brain is involved. After surgery, many patients will be seizure-free, while others will have better controlled seizures. A few patients may not improve and will need to explore further treatment options.

In some cases, a palliative approach is used to stop the spread of seizures, when the actual seizure focus cannot be determined accurately. One such approach involves cutting the nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain through a corpus callosotomy. The corpus callosum is a band of nerve fibers located deep in the brain that connects the two sides (hemispheres) of the brain. It helps the hemispheres share information, but it also contributes to the spread of seizure impulses from one side of the brain to the other.

Some conditions are associated with seizures arising from one entire half of the brain ?? one hemisphere which is not functioning normally. A functional hemispherectomy is a surgical procedure performed in these cases, in which the epileptic, non-functioning hemisphere is disconnected from the remaining, normal hemisphere in order to stop the seizures.

???Depending on how well the seizure focus can be defined, between 50 and 90 percent of children who have epilepsy surgery stop having seizures entirely or experience a major reduction in the number of seizures. Many people in the field believe that the earlier in a child's development that surgery is performed, the better the outcome,??? stated Dr. Weiner.