No Acute Effects of Choline Bitartrate Food Supplements on Memory in Healthy, Young, Human Adults

PLoS One. 2016 Jun 24;11(6):e0157714. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0157714. eCollection 2016.


Choline is a dietary component and precursor of acetylcholine, a crucial neurotransmitter for memory-related brain functions. In two double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over experiments, we investigated whether the food supplement choline bitartrate improved declarative memory and working memory in healthy, young students one to two hours after supplementation. In experiment 1, 28 participants performed a visuospatial working memory task. In experiment 2, 26 participants performed a declarative picture memorization task. In experiment 3, 40 participants performed a verbal working memory task in addition to the visuospatial working memory and declarative picture task. All tasks were conducted approximately 60 minutes after the ingestion of 2.0-2.5g of either choline bitartrate or placebo. We found that choline did not significantly enhance memory performance during any of the tasks. The null hypothesis that choline does not improve memory performance as compared to placebo was strongly supported by Bayesian statistics. These results are in contrast with animal studies suggesting that choline supplementation boosts memory performance and learning. We conclude that choline likely has no acute effects on cholinergic memory functions in healthy human participants.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choline / administration & dosage*
  • Choline / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects
  • Public Health Surveillance*
  • Young Adult


  • Choline

Grants and funding

The authors have no support or funding to report.