The study was designed and conducted by the paper's lead author, Paul R. Solomon, Ph.D., professor of psychology and founding chair of the college's Neuroscience Program, Richard D. De Veaux, Ph.D., professor of statistics, and three students: Felicity Adams, Amanda Silver, and Jill Zimmer.
Extract from leaves of the tree ginkgo biloba is marketed worldwide as an enhancer of memory and other mental functions. In 1998, $310 million dollars worth was sold in the U.S. alone.
Researchers identified 230 volunteers over the age of 60 who were physically and mentally healthy. They gave them 14 tests of learning, memory, and attention and concentration, and had them and their companions (e.g. spouses, partners, close friends) rate the participants' mental functions on subjective scales.
Participants were then randomly divided into two groups: one to take gingko and one placebo. The study was double-blind; neither the participants nor the researchers knew who was taking ginkgo and who was taking placebo.
The manufacturer claims beneficial effects can be noticed after four weeks. After six weeks, participants in the study retook the 14 standardized tests and they and their companions re-rated participants' mental functions. There were no significant differences between those taking ginkgo and those taking placebo on any of the objective or subjective measures.
"Many of our patients and their families who are seen at the Memory Clinic in Bennington have asked whether ginkgo could slow or reverse the effects of aging on memory," Solomo
Contact: Paul Solomon