A group of scientists are collaborating to create a memory pill which will capitalize on the finding that the consumption of foods containing oleic acid seems to aide in the consolidation of memories.
Oleic acid is found in a number of common foods (olive oil, for example) and is already a common component in manydietary supplement pills. Instead of straight oleic acid, the pill created by the scientists will contain oleoylethanolamide (OEA), which is the form that oleic acid takes after it has been processed by the small intestine. Presumably, this will provide pill users with a much higher concentration of the active compound, increasing memory retention compared to users who take dietary supplement pills.
I’m interested in seeing what other components the scientists decide to put in their memory pill, as users may not be too keen on paying exorbitant fees for a pill containing compounds that are pretty darn similar to those found in cheaper pills that they could find at the grocery store.
It will also be interesting to see if the memory pill comes with any warnings to its female users as oleic acid is associated with increased breast cancer risk.
On another note, it seems I was unfair in singling out evolutionary psychologists as a group that ascribes evolutionary significance to behaviors without first testing the claim. The scientists creating the memory pill suggested that oleic acid helps to consolidate memories because it’s commonly found in fatty foods and our ancestors needed to remember where they had found fatty foods in the past. While this certainly could be the case, it isn’t really possible to test this claim and lots of fatty foods are capable of moving, meaning that remembering where you found them last time may not necessarily help you find them again.
Anyway, I’m personally excited to see how the clinical trials on humans turn out! I’m sure that many of us would be excited to try out a safe way to boost memory retention!