As a choco-holic, I'm always happy when there are more studies that say 'chocolate is good'.
"A two-hour symposium on the neurobiology of chocolate, billed as a potentially "mind-altering experience," drew a standing-room-only crowd during the annual meeting in San Francisco of the American Association for the Advancement of Science."
Unfortunately, the study was partially sponsored by Mars Inc. (the candy manufacterer), so you will need to take the data with a grain of salt (yes, that was intentional :-) ).
"The beneficial brain effects appear to stem from flavanols' impact on the blood system. In essence, the chemicals stimulate an increase of blood flow to the brain, particularly in areas that light up during tasks that require alertness. Experiments suggest this neurovascular activity is distinct from the well-known stimulant effects of caffeine."
The article goes on to speculate about using flavanols for treating dementia and certain types of stroke, and other studies.
"Hollenberg summarized studies of indigenous people in Panama with diets rich in cocoa, who had been shown to have low incidences of high blood pressure, cancer and dementia. His latest studies also found evidence of "a striking blood flow response" in people over 50 who were given flavanols over several weeks."
I have a sudden urge to go back to the Scharffenberger Chocolate Factory for a slice of chocolate cake. Anyone up for a field trip? (It's a restaurant 3 blocks from my climbing gym, Berkeley Iron Works, and has the BEST desserts.)