What is γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)?
The most important inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain – provides this inhibition, acting like a “brake” during times of runaway stress.
What's so good about GABA?
Several reports have shown that GABA might affect brain protein synthesis, improve many brain functions such as memory and study capability, and have a relaxation effect in humans.
1) Stress Reduction
GABA reported to involve in reduction of psychological stress in people who performed arithmetic tasks. One of the study reported reduced heart rate variability and salivary chromogranin A (CgA) (stress markers) during an arithmetic task compared to a control group after the administration of GABA-enriched chocolate. GABA also reduces the stress facing by acrophobic subjects when they were exposed to heights. Additionally, participants who received 50 mg of GABA dissolved in a beverage reported less psychological fatigue after completion of the task.
2) Mood Improvement
GABA levels are decreased in patients suffering from depression. An increase in GABA levels have been found to improve mood. GABA, is able to produce relaxation as evidenced by changes in brain wave patterns, diameter of the pupil, and heart rate, as well as reduction of stress markers.
3) Sleep Enhancement
Due to its relaxation effects, GABA may be considered as a sleep aid. GABA receptors are highly expressed in the thalamus, a region of the brain involved with sleep processes. Hundreds of people have reported the benefits of using GABA- supplemented food, for instance in alleviating anxiety and enhance sleep.
4) Task Management
GABA is likely to play an important role in the neuromodulation of action control process. It can cause an increased ability to perform prioritized planned actions. Besides, studies have suggested that higher GABA levels are associated with more efficient response inhibition processes thus shorter stop signal reaction time (SSRT). GABA reduced the time needed to change to an alternative response
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Colzato, L.S., 2015. Neurotransmitters as food supplements : the effects of GABA on brain and behavior. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, pp.6–11.
Extrasynaptic GABA A Receptors Are Critical Targets for Sedative-Hypnotic Drugs. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2(2).
Steenbergen, L. et al., 2015. γ -Aminobutyric acid ( GABA ) administration improves action selection processes : a randomised controlled trial. Scientific Report, pp.1–7. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep12770.
Thorne Research, I., 2007. Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid ( GABA ). Alternative Medicine Review, 12(3), pp.274–280.
Yoto, A. et al., 2012. Oral intake of c -aminobutyric acid affects mood and activities of central nervous system during stressed condition induced by mental tasks. Amino Acids, 43, pp.1331–1337.