It was found that the rats that ate the food with the curcumin in it had a much harder time retrieving their fear memory. This suggested to the researchers that the curcumin compound plays a role in keeping any bad memories at bay.

“The curcumin effectively prevented the reconsolidation of the fear memory, and the effect was very long-lasting,” says Glenn Schafe, PhD, study coauthor and professor in the department of psychology at Hunter College. “It looked to us like very convincing data that the fear memories were lost in an enduring manner.”

While the exact mechanism behind why curcumin does this isn’t known, Scafe believes it’s curcumin’s anti-inflammatory benefits that can have an effect on cellular processes within the brain, making it good at targeting inflammation. This also has an impact on a wide range of diseases; everything from Alzheimer’s to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“The idea is that the curcumin [interferes with] cellular processes in the brain that are critical for putting a memory into long-term storage,” he says. He stresses that the idea that curcumin can affect the processes related to memory formation is in fact, fairly well grounded.

While human conclusions cannot be drawn from rat studies, the results are promising enough that researchers plan to test on human subjects next.