Nasal Spray for Better Memory

Interleukin-6

Ramin Herati

Snort your way to perfect health? Just last week, we heard that snorting stem cells might be the best way to get them into your noggin. And this week, scientists have declared that a nasal spray can help your memory.

Researchers tested the spray before and after sleeping because sleep is thought to help the brain solidify long-term memories while purging extraneous details from the day. First, they read an emotional story to 17 volunteers. Then the participants were given a nasal spray of either the molecule interleukin-6 or a placebo. The next morning, the people were asked to remember as many words from the story as they could. It turned out that people who had taken interleukin-6 had better recall of words the story they had heard than those in the control group. (The researchers, who published their findings in the October issue of The FASEB Journal, didn't find any effect for nonemotional stories.)

What is particularly curious about this study is the identity of what was going up people's snouts: interleukin-6. This molecule is primarily known as having an important role in the immune system, but researchers noted that its levels rise in the body (including the brain) when people sleep. Now it seems that it might be helping you remember emotional memories, as well.

And what if you don't want to remember something terrible and emotional from the day? One thing's for sure: don't go sticking any interleukin-6 up your nose.