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Behav Brain Res. 2007 Nov 2;183(2):141-6. Epub 2007 Jun 12.

Effects of the active constituents of Crocus sativus L., crocins on recognition and spatial rats' memory.

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Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, University of Thessaly, 22 Papakiriazi Str., 412-22 Larissa, Greece.


Crocus sativus L. is a plant cultivated in various parts of the world. Its involvement in learning and memory processes has been proposed. Crocins are water-soluble carotenoids and are among the active components of C. sativus L. The present study was designed to investigate in the rat the effects of crocins on recognition and spatial memory. For this aim, the object recognition task which evaluates non-spatial working memory and a novel version of the radial water maze which assesses spatial reference and spatial working memory were chosen. In a first study, crocins (15 and 30mg/kg) counteracted delay-dependent recognition memory deficits in the normal rat, suggesting that these carotenoids modulate storage and/or retrieval of information. In a subsequent study, treatment with crocins (30mg/kg and to a lesser extent also 15mg/kg) attenuated scopolamine (0.2mg/kg)-induced performance deficits in the radial water maze test. The present results support and extend the enhancing effects of crocins on memory and, then, to our knowledge, for the first time, demonstrate its implication in the mechanisms underlying recognition and spatial memory.

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