Event Abstract

The effect of a standardised Chinese herbal medicine formula (Sailuotong) on N1, PN, P2, MMN, P3a, and P3b amplitudes: a pilot study

  • 1 University of Wollongong, Centre for Psychophysics, Psychophysiology, and Psychopharmacology, Australia
  • 2 University of Western Sydney, The National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Australia
  • 3 Swinburne University of Technology, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Australia

Aims: A recent human trial has demonstrated that Sailuotong (SLT), a standardised Chinese herbal medicine formula, significantly improved Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) scores and increased cerebral blood flow (relative to placebo) in participants with probable or possible vascular dementia. The current pilot study aimed to test whether SLT can act as a cognitive enhancer in a healthy population. Method: Sixteen healthy adults participated in this randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover design pilot study. The participants were randomised to receive either SLT or placebo for 1 week, and then switched to the other treatment after a 7 day washout period. Before and after each treatment, participants completed a computerised neurocognitive test battery (Compass), and had their EEG activity recorded whilst completing two oddball tasks (auditory and visual). EOG-corrected ERPs from 18 scalp sites were submitted to a temporal PCA with Varimax rotation. Results: Visuospatial short-term memory (Corsi Block Span) and working memory (N-Back) showed improvements from baseline to post-treatment with SLT (compared to placebo) that approached significance. In the auditory oddball task, fronto-central MMN (264 ms), frontal P3a (348 ms), and parietal P3b (412 ms), and in the visual oddball task, temporo-parietal Processing Negativity (PN; 168 ms), central Mismatch Negativity (MMN; 252 ms), and centro-parietal P3b (420 ms) were all larger to targets than nontargets. For auditory P3a, the target enhancement was largest after SLT in comparison to placebo (from baseline to post-treatment); this effect approached significance. Conclusions: Though the effects were small, SLT enhanced visuospatial short-term memory and working memory. Importantly, SLT also increased auditory P3a amplitude, a neural correlate of working memory processes. Findings are consistent with previous research, and suggest that SLT could potentially improve memory function in healthy volunteers, however, a larger sample size is needed to demonstrate this.


Chang D, Colagiuri B, Luo R (2013). Chinese medicine used to treat dementia. In: Advances in Natural Medicines, Nutraceuticals and Neurocognition, Stough and Scholey (eds). CRC Press.

Keywords: event-related potentials (ERPs), oddball paradigm, P3(00), N1, Processing Negativity (PN), P2, MMN (Mismatch negativity), P3a, P3b, Cognitive Function, Complementary medicine, Chinese medicine

Conference: Australasian Society for Psychophysiology, Inc, Coffs Harbour, Australia, 26 Nov - 28 Nov, 2014.

Presentation Type: Poster

Topic: Psychophysiology

Citation: Steiner GZ, Yueng A, Camfield DA, De Blasio FM, Pipingas A, Scholey AB, Stough C and Chang DH (2014). The effect of a standardised Chinese herbal medicine formula (Sailuotong) on N1, PN, P2, MMN, P3a, and P3b amplitudes: a pilot study. Conference Abstract: Australasian Society for Psychophysiology, Inc. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2014.216.00025

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Received: 19 Oct 2014; Published Online: 02 Dec 2014.

* Correspondence: Ms. Genevieve Z Steiner, University of Wollongong, Centre for Psychophysics, Psychophysiology, and Psychopharmacology, Wollongong, NSW, Australia, G.Steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

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