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Stomach hormone 'stimulates brain functions'

23rd February 2006

New research has revealed that a hormone in the stomach directly stimulates learning and memory development in the brain.

Yale School of Medicine researchers showed that the hormone ghrelin influenced the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory.

Professor Tamas Horvath led the study published in Nature Neuroscience and said that tests on rats and mice gave improved memory and learning skills through better neuron connections.

He added that this research might lead towards ghrelin-like drugs to help fight against Alzheimer's and other memory-loss diseases.

Ghrelin levels were said to be highest when the stomach was empty, prompting Professor Horvath to speculate that there might be a link between the rise in obesity and decline in school performance.

The amount of ghrelin in the body declines with age, leading Professor Horvarth to say that the hormone could help protect against memory loss.

Hunger pangs in the brain are already known to be triggered by the hormone but this is the first study to link it to learning and memory skills.