Omega 3 diet gives monkeys better brains
New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience provides further evidence for the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in healthy brain development. It also was the first time scientists had been able to use functional brain imaging in live animals to see the large-scale interaction of multiple brain networks in a monkey. It was found to have neural networks very similar to humans.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids for the human body, but the body can’t make them – we can get them only through food. This study measured the omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is a primary component of the human brain and important in development of the brain and vision. DHA is found in fatty fish and oils from those fish, including salmon, mackerel and tuna.
The scientists studied a group of older rhesus macaque monkeys–17 to 19 years of age–that had always been fed either a diet low or high in omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA. The study found that the monkeys that had the high-DHA diet had strong connectivity of early visual pathways in their brains. It also found that monkeys with the high-DHA diet showed greater connections within various brain networks similar to the human brain, including networks for higher-level processing and cognition.
The next step, according to the researchers, will be to analyze whether the monkeys with deficits in certain networks have behavioral patterns that are similar to behavioral patterns in humans with certain neurological or psychiatric conditions–including ADHD and autism.
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