WHATEVER ELSE IT TAKES to produce a smart baby, a team of nutritionist-psychologists adds one more - choline. They find that it may be possible to permanently enhance memory by increasing the intake of this nutrient during a baby's development in the womb and in the first few months of life.
So far, psychologist Warren Meck, Ph.D., of Columbia University and his colleagues have worked only with rats, but the results have been so dramatic they believe that choline supplementation may also have "quite robust" effects on other young animals - including humans. In their studies, choline produces long-lasting biochemical changes in developing nerve cells, boosts memory function and precision above normal levels, and stalls age-related decline in memory.
Choline, explains Meck, is a major building block of neuronal membranes. It's also an important precursor of acetylcholine - a neurotransmitter known to be involved in memory.