Phytochemicals and cognitive health: Are flavonoids doing the trick?

Biomed Pharmacother. 2019 Jan;109:1488-1497. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.10.086. Epub 2018 Nov 14.


Flavonoids constitute a large group of polyphenolic compounds with numerous effects on behaviour and cognition. These effects vary from learning and memory enhancement to an improvement of general cognition. Furthermore, flavonoids have been implicated in a) neuronal proliferation and survival, by acting on a variety of cellular signalling cascades, including the ERK/CREB/BDNF and PI3K/Akt pathway, b) oxidative stress reduction and c) relief from Alzheimer's disease-type symptoms. From an electrophysiological aspect, they promote long term potentiation in the hippocampus, supporting the hypothesis of synaptic plasticity mediation. Together, these actions reveal a neuroprotective effect of flavonoid compounds in the brain. Therefore, flavonoid intake could be a potential clinical direction for prevention and/or attenuation of cognitive decline deterioration which accompanies various brain disorders. The purpose of the current review paper was to summarise all these effects on cognition, describe the possible pathways via which they may act on a cellular level and provide a better picture for future research towards this direction.

Keywords: Brain; Cognition; Flavonoid; Memory; Neuroprotection; Phytochemical.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology*
  • Phytochemicals / therapeutic use*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Flavonoids
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Phytochemicals