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Fat Memories

May 18, 2009

Eating fat helps consolidate long-term memories.


Why it’s hard to forget fat…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Is it any surprise that we might remember every detail of a rich, delicious, high-fat meal? Well now, researchers may have identified a biological basis for those vivid memories. Daniele Piomelli and his colleagues at the University of California, Irvine, looked at a compound called OEA that’s formed in the small intestine after eating fat. It was known that OEA sends a fullness signal to the brain. But the researchers also found that giving OEA to rats helped them retain memories better.

It suggests that fats are so important to our health that animals have evolved ways to remember about them.

Piomelli says OEA seems to help consolidate all kinds of memory, not just those related to food. They’re now planning on testing whether OEA could act as a drug to improve memory problems. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.