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Citicoline Improves Teen/Adult Attention in Two Trials

In an age where attention spans are short and activity levels are low for teen boys, a new study shows citicoline may improve concentration and motor speed. The randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled human clinical trial conducted by The Brain Institute, at the University of Utah, was presented at the annual American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology conference in Hollywood, FL. It found that adolescent males experienced increased motor speed and attention after supplementation of citicoline. Another study on adult males and citicoline, also released in July 2014, found similar results.

The Utah trial involved 75 adolescent males over a 28-day period in which the citicoline, a known cognitive-enhancing nutrient, was administered. The research reported that the individuals who were administered citicoline showed multiple improved cognitive domains, which includes measures of attention and motor speed.

Citicoline (CDP-choline; cytidine 5’-diphosphocholine) is a nucleotide that plays an important role in cellular metabolism. It has a number of putative mechanisms of action, including as a phospholipid precursor for neuronal membrane repair, for prevention of beta-amyloid deposition, and for promotion of neurotransmitter systems. Citicoline has been used therapeutically for stroke, traumatic brain injury, and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly, and it is available as a dietary supplement in the United States and Japan.

yurgelun-todd-smallAlthough citicoline has been the subject of previous trials, the nutrient has undergone limited research dedicated to healthy adolescent populations 1, 2, 3. Lead researcher, Dr. Deborah Yurgelun-Todd, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Utah, said, “the study finally sheds a light on the cognitive-enhancing effects of citicoline in healthy, adolescent individuals, which is something we at The Brain Institute have never done before.” Typically, research around citicoline involves adults with neurological deficits.


Here are the study findings:

  • Participants included 75 healthy adolescent males divided into treatment (n=51) and placebo groups (n=24) after completing a screening visit including a medical exam and clinical measures.
  • Individuals were then randomly assigned to a 250 mg or 500 mg Cognizin® citicoline treatment group or placebo group. To test the group, researchers conducted the “Finger Tap Test”, a motor function assessment during which participants are required to press a lever attached to a mechanical counter as many times as possible during discrete time periods.
  • Additionally, the “Ruff 2 & 7 Selective Attention Test” was also administered, which tests a timed cancellation task in which participants cross out 2’s and 7’s embedded in blocks of distractor numbers or letters.
  • Those who were given the citicoline scored higher in both tests after the 28-day period.
  • Between group differences, after 28 days of citicoline supplementation, individuals in the treatment group exhibited increased motor speed compared to individuals in the placebo group (p = 0.03; treatment group FTDH* Baseline mean = 479.96, SD = 69.39; treatment group FTDH Day 28 mean = 518.05, SD = 49.86; placebo group FTDH Baseline mean = 504.90, SD = 81.08; placebo group FTDH Day 28 mean = 513.43, SD = 64.03).
  • Self-reported side effects of administration were not greater as compared to participants in the placebo-controlled group.

A similar study, also released in July 2014 and published in the International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, examined the neurocognitive and electrophysiological effects of a citicoline-caffeine-based beverage in 60 healthy adult participants enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Compared to placebo, participants receiving the citicoline-caffeine beverage exhibited significantly faster maze learning times and reaction times on a continuous performance test, fewer errors in a go/no-go task and better accuracy on a measure of information processing speed.

Measures of electrical brain activity using electroencephalogram (EEG) results examining P450 event-related potentials revealed that participants receiving the citicoline-caffeine beverage exhibited higher P450 amplitudes than controls, suggesting an increase in sustained attention.

For more information on Cognizin® Citicoline, provided by Kyowa Hakko USA, link here.

1 J. J. Secades, “Citicoline: Pharmacological and Clinical Review, 2010 Update,” Revista de Neurologia, Vol. 52, Suppl. 2, 2011, pp. S1-S62.
2 R. Ozay, et al., “Citicoline Improves Functional Recovery, Promotes Nerve Regeneration, and Reduces Postoperative Scarring after Peripheral Nerve Surgery in Rats,” Surgical Neurology, Vol. 68, No. 6, 2007, pp. 615-622.
3 V. Parisi, et al., “Evidence of the Neuroprotective Role of Citicoline in Glaucoma Patients,” Progress in Brain Research, Vol. 173, 2008, pp. 541-554. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(08)01137-0



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