(HealthDay News) – Neurovascular coupling is significantly associated with cognitive function, and both are improved by cocoa consumption among elderly individuals with baseline impairments, according to a study published online Aug. 7 in Neurology.
Farzaneh A. Sorond, MD, PhD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function in 60 older adults (average age, 72.9 years), and assessed neurovascular coupling responses to cocoa (24-hour and 30-day studies). The Mini-Mental State Examination and Trail Making Test A and B were used to measure cognition. The beat-to-beat blood flow velocity responses in the middle cerebral arteries to the N-Back Task were used to measure neurovascular coupling. Cerebral white matter structural integrity was measured in a subset of participants using magnetic resonance imaging.
The researchers found that neurovascular coupling correlated significantly with Trails B scores and performance on the 2-Back Task. There was a significant association between higher neurovascular coupling and higher fractional anisotropy in cerebral white matter hyperintensities. For those with impaired neurovascular coupling at baseline, cocoa consumption for 30 days was associated with significantly increased neurovascular coupling (5.6 vs. −2.4%; P=0.001) and improved Trails B times (116 vs. 167 seconds; P=0.007).
“There is a strong correlation between neurovascular coupling and cognitive function, and both can be improved by regular cocoa consumption in individuals with baseline impairments,” the authors write.
One author disclosed financial ties to Biogen Idec. The coca used was provided by Mars Inc.