Enhanced Cognition

Therapeutically, tyrosine supplements are used to enhance levels of its derivatives and, therefore, improve cognitive function.

One randomised, placebo-controlled study investigated the effects of L-tyrosine (1 50 mg/kg) on cognitive performance following one night's sleep loss. Supplementation was found to significantly reduce performance decline, with cognitive improvements lasting approximately 3 hours (Neri et al 1995).

RCTs comparing the effects of a balanced amino acid drink with one lacking in tyrosine and phenylalanine demonstrated that tyrosine-depleted individuals experienced impaired spatial recognition memory and spatial working memory and an increase in plasma prolactin levels (Harmer et al 2001, McTavish et al 2005), indicating a decrease in dopamine neurotransmission within the hypothalamus. Although ratings of depression and other aspects of cognitive function were unaffected, subjective feedback indicated that the participants felt better on the balanced drink (Harmer et al 2001 ).

Changes in tyrosine transport may also influence cognitive functioning in schizophrenia via the dopamine system (Wiesel et al 2005).

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