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Sunshine might help improve memory: scientists

Xinhua | Updated: 2018-06-13 06:38
Foreigners enjoy the beach and sunshine in Sanya, which is seeing steady growth in overseas visitors. YANG GUANYU / XINHUA

BEIJING - Always forgetting things? A new Chinese study suggests you might need more outdoor activity and exposure to sunlight to improve your memory.

Scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China found that moderate UV exposure enhances learning and memory by promoting a novel glutamate bio-synthetic pathway in the brain. The discovery was recently published in the academic journal, Cell.

Xiong Wei, lead scientist of the research, said moderate exposure to the sun has many benefits, including promoting the synthesis of vitamin D and treatment of many skin diseases.

Scientists also found that sunlight will affect the neural system. Moderate exposure might help lift your spirits and improve cognitive functions. However, the deep-level mechanism between sunshine and the neural system is still unclear.

Combining research methods in cell biology and neuroscience, researchers discovered that being exposed to the sun might greatly increase the content of a chemical substance called UCA in the blood of animals. UCA enters nerve cells in the brain, and transforms into glutamic acid by a series of bio-metabolic enzymes.

The glutamic acid is released in the nerve endings of the motor cortex and hippocampus, a brain region vital to memory and learning, said Xiong.

The research will play an important role in understanding the working mechanism of the brain and pathogenesis of relevant diseases.

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