Ginkobiloba Extract Improves Working Memory Performance in Middle-Aged Women: Role of Asymmetry of Prefrontal Cortex Activity During a Working Memory Task

  • Kaoru Sakatani
  • Masahiro Tanida
  • Naoyasu Hirao
  • Naohiro Takemura
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 812)


In order to clarify the mechanism through which extract of Ginkgo biloba leaves (EGb) improves cognitive function, we examined the effects of EGb on cerebral blood oxygenation in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and on performance during a working memory task, using near-infrared spectrometry (NIRS). First, we evaluated differences in behavioral performance of the Sternberg working memory test (ST) and in the activation pattern of the PFC during ST between 15 young and 19 middle-aged healthy women. Then, we examined the effect of EGb (120 mg/day for 6 weeks) on ST performance and PFC activation pattern in the middle-aged group. The middle-aged group exhibited a longer reaction time (RT) in ST than the young group and showed a different PFC activation pattern during ST, i.e., the middle-aged group showed bilateral activation while the young group showed right-dominant activation. In the middle-aged group, administration of EGb for 6 weeks shortened the RT of ST and changed the PFC activation pattern to right-dominant, like that in the young group. The results indicate the PFC plays a role in the physiological cognitive function-enhancing effect of EGb. EGb might improve working memory function in middle-aged individuals by counteracting the occurrence of aging-related hemispheric asymmetry reduction.


Ginkobiloba Near-infrared spectroscopy Prefrontal cortex Cerebral blood oxygenation Sternberg working memory test Reaction time 



This research was supported in part by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Sciences and Technology of Japan (B23300247), and grants from Alpha Electron Co., Ltd. (Fukushima, Japan) and Iing Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan).


  1. 1.
    Le Bars PL (2003) Magnitude of effect and special approach to Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in cognitive disorders. Pharmacopsychiatry 36(Suppl 1):S44–S49PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kaschel R (2009) Ginkgo biloba: specificity of neuropsychological improvement – a selective review in search of differential effects. Hum Psychopharmacol 24:345–370CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hartley DE, Heinze L, Elsabagh S, File SE (2003) Effects on cognition and mood in postmenopausal women of 1-week treatment with Ginkgo biloba. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 75:711–720CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cabeza R (2002) Hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults: the HAROLD Model. Psychol Aging 17:85–100CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Tanida M, Sakatani K, Tsujii T (2012) Relation between working memory performance and evoked cerebral blood oxygenation changes in the prefrontal cortex evaluated by quantitative time-resolved near-infrared spectroscopy. Neurol Res 34:114–119PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Oda M, Nakano T, Suzuki A, Shimizu K, Hirano I, Shimomura F, Ohame E, Suzuki T, Yamashita Y (2000) Near infrared time-resolved spectroscopy system for tissue oxygenation monitor. Proc SPIE 4160:204–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Aron AR, Robbins TW, Poldrack RA (2004) Inhibition and the right inferior frontal cortex. Trends Cogn Sci 8:170–177CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Berlingeri M, Danelli L, Bottini G, Sberna M, Paulesu E (2013) Reassessing the HAROLD model: is the hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older adults a special case of compensatory-related utilisation of neural circuits? Exp Brain Res 224(3):393–410CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Huang SY, Jeng C, Kao SC, Yu JJH, Liu DZ (2004) Improved haemorrheological properties by Ginkgo biloba extract (Egb 761) in type 2 diabetes mellitus complicated with retinopathy. Clin Nutr 23:615–621CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hadjiivanova CI, Petkov VV (2002) Effect of Ginkgo biloba extract on beta-adrenergic receptors in different rat brain regions. Phytother Res 16:488–490CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Silberstein RB, Pipingas A, Song J, Camfield DA, Nathan PJ, Stough C (2011) Examining brain-cognition effects of Ginkgo biloba extract: brain activation in the left temporal and left prefrontal cortex in an object working memory task. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2011:164139CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kaoru Sakatani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Masahiro Tanida
    • 3
  • Naoyasu Hirao
    • 3
  • Naohiro Takemura
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratory of Integrative Biomedical Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, College of EngineeringNihon UniversityKoriyamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Neurological SurgeryNihon University School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Shiseido Research CenterYokohamaJapan
  4. 4.Laboratory of Integrative Biomedical Engineering, Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, College of EngineeringNihon UniversityKoriyamaJapan

Personalised recommendations