The incidence of AD is expected to triple in the coming decades. There is no known cure. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids possess anti-amyloid, anti-tau and anti-inflammatory activity in the brains of animals. These activities are associated with AD. This study looked at the interrelationships between omega-3 fatty acids, blood flow in the brain and cognition.
- Random sampling of 166 adults with normal cognitive functions (no dementia) in the USA.
- Brain SPECT Imaging measured blood flow in the brain while participants performed various cognitive tasks: motor coordination, reaction time, sustained attention, controlled attention, mental flexibility, inhibition, working memory, recall memory and executive function.
- Assessment of feelings of depression, anxiety and emotional resilience was measured by computerized testing.
LIMITS OF THIS STUDY
- The authors are not able to show causality or determine the mechanism by which omega-3’s influenced blood flow to the brain.
WHAT WAS ALREADY KNOWN
- Omega-3s contribute to the structural integrity of brain and nerve cells, control inflammation and oxidation, and promote energy metabolism.
- Omega-3s have been linked to preventing age-related decline of cognitive function including fluid intelligence (the ability to solve new problems, use logic and identify patterns).
WHAT THIS STUDY ADDS
- Demonstrated the value of nutritional intervention for brain health using SPECT imaging in a randomized trial.
- Showed a statistically significant correlation between higher omega-3 levels and blood flow in areas involved in memory (Blue and Green) and neurocognition/learning (Blue).
- Showed a positive correlation between higher omega-3 levels and physiological feelings and emotions (Green).
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Daniel, D.G., Harris, W.S., Kidd, P.M., Meysami, S. and Raji, C.A. (2017) J Alzheimer’s Disease, May 2017 DOI: 10.3233/JAD-17028. Hot Topic Small Talk – Volume 2, Number 6