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Use of medications to enhance memory in a large community sample of 60–64 year olds

  • Anthony F. Jorm (a1), Bryan Rodgers (a1) and Helen Christensen (a1) (a2)


Background: There are no existing epidemiological data on use of medications to enhance memory.

Method: A community survey was carried out in Canberra and Queanbeyan, Australia, of an electoral roll sample of 2551 adults aged 60–64 years. Data collected included self-reports of using medications to enhance memory, tests of memory and other cognitive functions, anxiety, depression, physical health and use of other medications.

Results: 2.8% of the sample reported using medications to enhance memory, the main ones being gingko biloba, vitamin E, bacopa (brahmi), and folic acid/B vitamins. Users were more likely to be female, to have subjective memory problems and to use other psychotropic medications. However, they did not differ in memory performance, anxiety, depression or physical health.

Discussion: Some older people are using complementary medications to improve their memory or prevent memory loss, despite the lack of strong evidence for their effectiveness. These people show no objective evidence of memory impairment


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: A. F. Jorm, Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. Phone: +61 2 61258414; Fax: +61 2 61250733. E-mail:



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