Background/objectives: Green tea is being recognized as a beverage with potential benefits for human health and cognitive functions. In vivo studies provide preliminary evidence that green tea intake may have a positive role in improving effects on cognitive functions. We aimed to examine the neural effects of green tea extract on brain activation in humans.
Subjects/methods: Functional magnetic resonance imaging was recorded while 12 healthy volunteers performed a working memory task following administration of 250 or 500 ml of a milk whey based green tea containing soft drink or milk whey based soft drink without green tea as control in a double-blind, controlled repeated measures within-subject design with counterbalanced order of substance administration. A whole-brain analysis with a cluster-level threshold of P<0.001 (unadjusted) was followed by an a priori-defined region of interest (ROI) analysis of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) including a cluster-level threshold of P<0.05 and family-wise error (FWE) adjustment for multiple comparisons.
Results: Whole-brain analyses revealed no significant effects after correction for multiple comparisons (FWE P<0.05). Using a ROI approach, green tea extract increased activation in the DLPFC relative to a control condition (FWE P<0.001). This neural effect was related to green tea dosage. Green tea extract was not associated with any significant attenuation in regional activation relative to control condition.
Conclusions: These data suggest that green tea extract may modulate brain activity in the DLPFC, a key area that mediates working memory processing in the human brain. Moreover, this is the first neuroimaging study implicating that functional neuroimaging methods provide a means of examining how green tea extract acts on the brain.