The old saying “you are what you eat” is becoming increasingly important in the field of neuroscience these days. There is mounting evidence that nutritional factors are beginning to play a major role in cognitive status, or cognitive wellbeing. One of these emerging factors is magnesium (Mg2+). Although the physiological investigation of Mg2+ has a long history, its role in cognitive function is just starting to emerge. The focus of this chapter is to review the available literature on the effects of Mg2+ on cognitive function in the healthy and diseased/injured brain. In addition, data from our laboratory will be presented that has investigated the effects of Mg2+ manipulation on learning and memory tasks in rodents, as well as the ability of Mg2+ therapy to improve cognitive performance in the damaged brain.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide a review of the literature on the role of Mg2+ in cognitive function. Although the research on this topic is generally sparse, there is an accumulating body of evidence suggesting that Mg2+ is vitally important. The role that micronutrients play in maintaining and promoting cognitive ability and neural plasticity has started to receive a good deal of attention. A recent paper has provided an excellent review on how various nutrients promote cognitive performance and neural plasticity (Gómez-Pinilla, 2008).
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