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The ability to remember things currently being done (working memory) recently learned (short term) and possible for life (long term memory); some compounds enhance memory by reversing states of neural malaise (Fish Oil, Curcumin) whereas some can increase memory unilaterally (Bacopa Monnieri).

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Feb 6, 2013
Last Updated:

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect memory
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
grade-a Minor High See all 12 studies
There appears to be a fairly reliable increase in short term memory and free recall associated with ginkgo supplementation in older individuals (55yrs or above) either with or without diagnosed neurodegenerative disease states.
grade-b Notable High See all 8 studies
Although general and requiring a long time to take effect (4-6 weeks), bacopa appears to reliably and effectively improve memory in both healthy persons and during cognitive decline
grade-b Minor High See all 3 studies
Mixed influences on memory, with one study noting a decrease in 'total' memory formation and two studies noting improvements in 'quality' of memories formed. There is likely a modulatory effect associated with lemon balm.
grade-b - Low See all 5 studies
Overall, highly mixed effects effects of caffeine on memory. It appears to increase spatial/perceptual memory and reduce working memory (perhaps secondary to overstimulation)
grade-c Notable - See study
The lone study noted mild increases in memory (14%) bordering on statistical significance in high performers on a word recollection test, with higher performances in subjects over the age of 30 regardless of initial performance (108-152% increase over placebo performance) and in poor performers (87.5-105%).
grade-c Minor - See study
Memory formation in elderly subjects can be improved with daily supplementation of blueberries or their extract
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Appears to promote cognition in otherwise healthy older adults. Although animal studies suggest this may apply to youthful subjects as well, no human currently exists for youth
grade-c Minor - See 2 studies
Possible improvements in memory
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in memory has been noted in older women, no current studies in youth
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in memory retention under periods of stress has been noted
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Memory (usually studies investigate short term) appears to be beneficially influenced with modafinil supplementation, possible secondary to the improvements in working memory and attention.
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in memory has been noted with ingestion of nicotine in persons with mild cognitive impairment
grade-c Minor - See study
There appears to be a small but respectable (15-20% higher than baseline) improvement in logical memory and 30 minute recall in older subjects supplementing the seeds in their daily lifestyle.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Although it has mechanisms and animal evidence to support improvements in memory in healthy youth, all human studies are currently in those with cognitive decline
grade-c Minor Moderate See all 3 studies
Increases in memory have been noted in persons with cognitive decline. A memory improving effect in otherwise healthy people is theoretical (secondary to reducing stress, has been noted in rodents), but not demonstrated in humans yet
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Small increase in backwards recall with piracetam; nothing remarkable and overall very limited evidence in otherwise healthy individuals to draw from.
- See study
The lone study to assess cognition in older women in menopause has noted an increase in visuospatial processing yet a reduction in digit span and verbal memory tests; uncertain implications.
grade-c Minor - See study
In persons with SSRIs, adding SAMe confers a cognitive promoting effect; it is unsure if this persists in persons without SSRIs, and this augmenting effect with SSRIs is only seen in limited other instances (ie. with creatine)
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in acute memory formation has been noted in female volutneers given 40mg Vinpocetine
grade-c - - See study
No significant effect on memory function
grade-c - - See study
No acute effect on spatial memory formation
grade-c - - See study
No evidence for chromium reducing memory decline seen with aging.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
In subjects with otherwise healthy cognition, the addition of cocoa flavanols to the diet does not appear to significantly increase memory retention when compared to placebo.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No effect on short-term recall during sleep deprivation.
grade-c - - See study
Overall memory formation does not appear to be significantly affected by usage of marijuana.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
There have been no detectable increases in long term (20 minute) recall, either with or without cues, associated with supplementation at this point in time.
grade-c - - See study
Acute supplementation of Kanna prior to testing does not appear to influence acute memory formation or retention when compared to placebo.
grade-c - - See study
Supplementation of vitamin E by otherwise healthy women has failed to significantly improve memory formation.
grade-d Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Multiple studies have noted an improvement on cognitive tests. Results are limited to people with cognitive impairment, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, and it's unclear if ashwagandha improves the memory of normal people.
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
While it appears effective in promoting memory formation in elderly persons and cognitively injured youth, there is currently no evidence in otherwise healthy use for nootropic purposes
grade-d - - See study
The aroma of peppermint has been unable to influence memory processing (quantity or quality of memory formation) relative to control