Original Article

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012) 66, 1187–1192; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2012.105; published online 29 August 2012

Food and health

Neural effects of green tea extract on dorsolateral prefrontal cortex

S Borgwardt1,2,3, F Hammann2, K Scheffler4, M Kreuter5, J Drewe6 and C Beglinger6

  1. 1University Hospital Basel, Medical Image Analysis Centre, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  3. 3Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, De Crespigny Park, London, UK
  4. 4Department of High-Field MR, Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany
  5. 5Alpinia Laudanum Institute of Phytopharmaceutical Sciences, Walenstadt, Switzerland
  6. 6Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland

Correspondence: Professor S Borgwardt, Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital Basel, Petersgraben 4, Basel 4031, Switzerland. E-mail: sborgwardt@uhbs.ch or stefan.borgwardt@kcl.ac.uk

Received 16 March 2012; Revised 3 July 2012; Accepted 3 July 2012
Advance online publication 29 August 2012





Green tea is being recognized as a beverage with potential benefits for human health and cognitive functions. In vivo studies provide preliminary evidence that green tea intake may have a positive role in improving effects on cognitive functions. We aimed to examine the neural effects of green tea extract on brain activation in humans.



Functional magnetic resonance imaging was recorded while 12 healthy volunteers performed a working memory task following administration of 250 or 500ml of a milk whey based green tea containing soft drink or milk whey based soft drink without green tea as control in a double-blind, controlled repeated measures within-subject design with counterbalanced order of substance administration. A whole-brain analysis with a cluster-level threshold of P<0.001 (unadjusted) was followed by an a priori-defined region of interest (ROI) analysis of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) including a cluster-level threshold of P<0.05 and family-wise error (FWE) adjustment for multiple comparisons.



Whole-brain analyses revealed no significant effects after correction for multiple comparisons (FWE P<0.05). Using a ROI approach, green tea extract increased activation in the DLPFC relative to a control condition (FWE P<0.001). This neural effect was related to green tea dosage. Green tea extract was not associated with any significant attenuation in regional activation relative to control condition.



These data suggest that green tea extract may modulate brain activity in the DLPFC, a key area that mediates working memory processing in the human brain. Moreover, this is the first neuroimaging study implicating that functional neuroimaging methods provide a means of examining how green tea extract acts on the brain.


green tea; functional MRI; prefrontal cortex; DLPFC

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