A researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) grew curious about magnesium's role in memory after a lab study found that, in rats fed high levels of the mineral, communication between brain cells was activated like a fully engaged orchestra. The researcher, Guosong Liu, an associate professor of biophysical neuroscience at MIT's Neuroscience Research Center, said the finding indicates magnesium makes the mature brain open for growth and change. "The animal studies are telling us something very important about magnesium," he said. His findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Neuron.

In his experiment, he fed lab rats the equivalent of a human dose of 400mg of magnesium a day. The result, he said, was that the mineral increased the activity of receptors that control learning and memory. Specifically, it enhanced the activity at the synapse, the gap between two neurons, or brain cells.

--from the Prepared Foods December 6, 2004 e-newsletter

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