Neurophysiological Effects of Whole Coffee Cherry Extract in Older Adults with Subjective Cognitive Impairment: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Pilot Study.
Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Jan 20 ;10(2). Epub 2021 Jan 20. PMID: 33498314
Jennifer L Robinson
Bioactive plant-based compounds have shown promise as protective agents across multiple domains including improvements in neurological and psychological measures. Methodological challenges have limited our understanding of the neurophysiological changes associated with polyphenol-rich supplements such as whole coffee cherry extract (WCCE). In the current study, we (1) compared 100 mg of WCCE to a placebo using an acute, randomized, double-blind, within-subject, cross-over design, and we (2) conducted a phytochemical analysis of WCCE. The primary objective of the study was to determine the neurophysiological and behavioral changes that resulted from the acute administration of WCCE. We hypothesized that WCCE would increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and glutamate levels while also increasing neurofunctional measures in cognitive brain regions. Furthermore, we expected there to be increased behavioral performance associated with WCCE, as measured by reaction time and accuracy. Participants underwent four neuroimaging scans (pre- and post-WCCE and placebo) to assess neurofunctional/metabolic outcomes using functional magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The results suggest that polyphenol-rich WCCE is associated with decreased reaction time and may protect against cognitive errors on tasks of working memory and response inhibition. Behavioral findings were concomitant with neurofunctional changes in structures involved in decision-making and attention. Specifically, we found increased functional connectivity between the anterior cingulate and regions involved in sensory and decision-making networks. Additionally, we observed increased BDNF and an increased glutamate/gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) ratio following WCCE administration. These results suggest that WCCE is associated with acute neurophysiological changes supportive of faster reaction times and increased, sustained attention.