Flavonoids and cognition: the molecular mechanisms underlying their behavioural effects

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2009 Dec;492(1-2):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.abb.2009.10.003. Epub 2009 Oct 12.


Evidence suggests that a group of phytochemicals known as flavonoids are highly effective in reversing age-related declines in neuro-cognitive performance through their ability to interact with the cellular and molecular architecture of the brain responsible for memory and by reducing neuronal loss due to neurodegenerative processes. In particular, they may increase the number of, and strength of, connections between neurons, via their specific interactions with the ERK and Akt signalling pathways, leading to an increase in neurotrophins such as BDNF. Concurrently, their effects on the peripheral and cerebral vascular system may also lead to enhancements in cognitive performance through increased brain blood flow and an ability to initiate neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Finally, they have also been shown to reduce neuronal damage and losses induced by various neurotoxic species and neuroinflammation. Together, these processes act to maintain the number and quality of synaptic connections in the brain, a factor known to be essential for efficient LTP, synaptic plasticity and ultimately the efficient working of memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage
  • Flavonoids / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / blood supply
  • Hippocampus / chemistry
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neurogenesis / drug effects
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / administration & dosage
  • Neuroprotective Agents / chemistry
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology


  • Flavonoids
  • Neuroprotective Agents