Three months after bariatric surgery patients had a significant improvement in memory function, according to research conducted by Gladys Strain, PhD, director of research for laparoscopic and bariatric surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.
Bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, is an effective obesity treatment, but its effects on cognition have not been well studied, says Strain.
Her study compared 120 bariatric surgery patients (most with gastric bypass and some with lap band) and 60 obese patients who had not undergone surgery. Participants were tested for attention, executive function, memory and language skills before and after surgery, within a 12-week period.
For attention, executive function and language, there were no changes during that three months for the patients, according to Strain. However, there was improvement in memory among the bariatric surgery patients, which was not found in the comparison group.
It’s not clear why the patients’ memories improved. “Bariatric patients have an increased incidence of depressive disorders and anxiety and sedentary lifestyles,” Strain says. As they lose weight, that depression may lift, perhaps explaining the improvement in cognitive skills, she says.
More information about this study is available on WebMD.