The same foods blamed for clogging arteries may help the brain build memories, National Geographic reports. Researchers studying obesity discovered that rats given oleoylethanolamide, or OEA—a compound produced in the intestines when fat is digested—demonstrated improved memory retention in tasks. They believe the same mechanism exists in humans and hope their findings will help create pills that can improve memory.
The researchers believe the effects of OEA evolved as a way for animals to remember where they had eaten fatty foods—which are vital for the body but rarely found in nature—so they could return to the same rich source of food later. Drugs that mimic the effects of OEA are currently undergoing clinical trials.