Fuels for memory: the role of oxygen and glucose in memory enhancement

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Apr;136(4):349-56. doi: 10.1007/s002130050577.


Recent studies indicate that some aspects of memory can be enhanced by the administration of oxygen or glucose. Considering the dependency of glucose metabolism upon oxygen supply, the present study predicted that administering a combination of 100% oxygen with glucose would have greater memory-enhancing effects than when either substance was administered alone. In a placebo-controlled study, 104 healthy adults were given a glucose or placebo drink, and inhaled 100% oxygen or air for 1 min, before carrying out a number of everyday memory tasks designed to measure short-term and long-term memory. Results showed support for the enhancing effects of oxygen (but not for glucose) on delayed recall. These findings are discussed in relation to the possible cholinergic properties of oxygen and glucose and the implications for their clinical use.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / drug effects*
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / pharmacology*


  • Glucose
  • Oxygen