When you read the word "RED" what color is it?
If your first answer was red, you're not alone. The color of the word is, of course, black, but it's hard for our brains to quickly separate the color of the text from the word we're reading. This test, called the Stroop Color-Word Test, can help measure cognitive function and flexibility, as well as the ability to pay attention to and stay focused on a task. So doctors often use it to help assess cognitive performance in older adults. It's also an effective way to determine whether various treatment options are having beneficial effects.
This was the case in a study published a few years ago in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. For this study, researchers at the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre at the University of South Australia wanted to determine if extracts from the herb oat (Avena sativa) could help cognitive performance in older adults.
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To test this, they asked elderly participants whose cognitive performance was subpar to consume either 0, 1,600, or 2,400 mg of oat herb extract a week. They had them take the Stroop test before and after they began taking the supplement. They also tested the participants' blood pressure to ensure it would not be adversely affected.
Those who took 1,600 mg of the extract made significantly fewer errors on the test. Both of the other groups showed little improvement. None of the groups had any changes in blood pressure.
I know that 1,600 mg sounds like a lot, but just three capsules a day should get you there. Plus, many people experience the bonus side effects of reduced anxiety and better sleep. If you suspect a loved one's cognitive function is slipping, an Avena sativa supplement may be worth a try as a natural way to support attention, concentration, and task focus.
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