Nutrition has been linked to cognitive efficiency, however researchers haven’t pinpointed what underlies the connection. A brand new research by College of Illinois researchers discovered that monounsaturated fatty acids — a category of vitamins present in olive oils, nuts and avocados are linked to normal intelligence, and that this relationship is pushed by the correlation between MUFAs and the organization of the brain’s consideration network.
The research of 99 wholesome older adults, recruited via Carle Basis Hospital in Urbana, in contrast patterns of fatty acid vitamins present in blood samples, practical MRI knowledge that measured the effectivity of brain networks, and outcomes of a normal intelligence check. The research was revealed within the journal NeuroImage.
“Our goal is to understand how nutrition might be used to support cognitive performance and to study the ways in which nutrition may influence the functional organization of the human brain,” mentioned research chief Aron Barbey, a professor of psychology.
“This is important because if we want to develop nutritional interventions that are effective at enhancing cognitive performance, we need to understand the ways that these nutrients influence brain function.”
“In this study, we examined the relationship between groups of fatty acids and brain networks that underlie general intelligence. In doing so, we sought to understand if brain network organization mediated the relationship between fatty acids and general intelligence,” mentioned Marta Zamroziewicz, a current Ph.D. graduate of the neuroscience program at Illinois and lead writer of the research.
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Research suggesting cognitive benefits of the Mediterranean weight-reduction plan diet, which is wealthy in MUFAs, impressed the researchers to concentrate on this group of fatty acids. They examined vitamins in contributors’ blood and located that the fatty acids clustered into two patterns: saturated fatty acids and MUFAs.
It’s Nutrition Historical past
“Historically, the approach has been to focus on individual nutrients. But we know that dietary intake doesn’t depend on any one specific nutrient; rather, it reflects broader dietary patterns,” mentioned Barbey, who is also affiliated with the Beckman Institute for Superior Science and Expertise at Illinois.
The researchers discovered that normal intelligence was related to the brain’s dorsal consideration network, which performs a central function in attention-demanding duties and on a regular basis drawback fixing.
Specifically, the researchers discovered that normal intelligence was related to how effectively the dorsal consideration network is functionally organized used a measure referred to as small-world propensity, which describes how effectively the neural network is related inside domestically clustered areas in addition to throughout globally built-in programs.
In flip, they discovered that these with larger ranges of MUFAs of their blood had better small-world propensity of their dorsal consideration network. Taken along with an noticed correlation between larger ranges of MUFAs and better normal intelligence, these findings counsel a pathway by which MUFAs have an effect on cognition.
“Our findings provide novel evidence that MUFAs are related to a very specific brain network, the dorsal attentional network, and how optimal this network is functionally organized,” Barbey mentioned.
“Our results suggest that if we want to understand the relationship between MUFAs and general intelligence, we need to take the dorsal attention network into account. It’s part of the underlying mechanism that contributes to their relationship.”
Barbey hopes these findings will information additional analysis into how diet impacts cognition and intelligence. Specifically, the following step is to run an interventional research over time to see whether or not long-term MUFA consumption influences brain network organization and intelligence.
“Our ability to relate those beneficial cognitive effects to specific properties of brain networks is exciting,” Barbey mentioned. “This gives us evidence of the mechanisms by which nutrition affects intelligence and motivates promising new directions for future research in nutritional cognitive neuroscience.”
Supplies supplied by College of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.