A plastic brain is a good thing, it means the brain is fired up and can make connections to improve learning and memory.  A new study published in Neuron, a scientific journal devoted to neuroscience, on January 28 proves it is important to eat your greens to optimize such "plasticity."

The international team of researchers from MIT, Tel Aviv University (TAU), Tsinghua University in Beijing and University of Toronto found an increase in "brain magnesium enhances both short-term synaptic facilitation and long-term potentiation (LTP) and improves learning and memory functions."

On February 22, Inna Slusky, PhD, researcher and lecturer at TAU's Sackler School of Medicine, told American Friends of Tel Aviv University (AFTAU), an organization that supports TAU's students and research, "we are really pleased with the positive results of our studies, but on the negative side, we've also been able to show that today's over-the-counter magnesium supplements don't really work. They do not get into the brain."

Dr. Slusky explained, "magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body, but today half of all people in industrialized countries are living with magnesium deficiencies that may generally impair human health, including cognitive functioning".

Since supplements are not effective, the best way to increase magnesium is with magnesium-rich foods including spinach, almonds, cashews, soybeans, oatmeal, halibut and even chocolate pudding. Here is a more comprehensive list.

Prof. Guosong Liu, researcher in this study, director of the Center for Learning and Memory at Tsinghua University and cofounder of Magceutics company, is beginning the clinical trial phase of "a promising new compound" that may be a targeted source for brain magnesium.

Full study in Neuron: http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(09)01044-7 

AFTAU with Dr. Slusky:  http://www.aftau.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11731