Need a memory boost? Meditate…while eating macadamia nuts

mmw_meditation_091908_articleIf you love fatty food, maybe you should learn to focus really, really intensely on it. A new study suggests that a specific style of focused meditation can boost short-term memory, while separate research shows a link between dietary fats and long-term recollection.

First up, a new study by researchers at George Mason University found that “Deity Yoga” meditation could prompt improvements in visuospatial talents – the ability to retain images in visual memory. During DY meditation, practitioners image and focus on a detailed image, traditionally of a deity and the deity’s surrroundings.

This study compared three groups: DY meditators, OP meditators (who do not advocate visualization during meditation) and non-meditators. Participants first completed visualization tasks, meditators meditated for 20 minutes while non-meditators rested, and everyone then completed a second round of tasks. DY meditators scored significantly higher than both groups on the tasks performed after their meditation session.  Researchers think the finding “has many implications for therapy, treatment of memory loss, and mental training.”

Is Little Debbie a deity? If so, UC Irvine researchers might want to start a meditation group to further boost the recollection abilities they’ve tied to fatty foods. Previous studies have concluded that oleic acids from fats are transformed into a compound called OEA during digestion. Now, they’ve proven, using rodents, that OEA causes memory consolidation, the process whereby short-term memories become long-term ones. It’s likely that the process was an evolutionary tool, helping humans recall when and where they last found a high-fat food source. Today, such memory enhancement is a little problematic: OEA is likely responsible for those late-night cupcake cravings you can’t seem to shake…

So, until researchers come up with an OEA inhibitor of some sort, you’ll have to stop eating fatty foods to stop craving them. Maybe meditate on the Twinkie instead?


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