“…why is it that a new study of older women published in the journal Neurology finds that omega-3s may not benefit thinking skills or help fend off cognitive decline?…As study author Eric Ammann, of the University of Iowa, points out in an email, “most randomized trials of omega‑3 supplements have not found an effect on cognitive function.” [Read more…] about One more study shows “brain supplements” don’t work to enhance brain health and function
When you think of how the PC has altered the fabric of society, permitting instant access to information and automating processes beyond our wildest dreams, it is instructive to consider that much of this progress was driven by Moore’s law. Halving the size of semiconductor every 18 months catalysed an exponential acceleration in performance.
Why is this story relevant to modern neuroscience and the workings of the brain? Because transformative technological progress arises out of choice and the actions of individuals who see potential for change, and we may well be on the verge of such progress. [Read more…] about SharpBrains Council Monthly Insights: How will we assess, enhance and repair cognition across the lifespan?
Let me provide an overview of the great things going on with the SharpBrains Council for Brain Fitness Innovation — starting this week, we will share a brief update like this every Friday to maintain SharpBrains colleagues and readers informed. Please note that all links below require access to the Council’s online platform.
The study … examined 402 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. They were randomly assigned to take 2 grams a day of omega‑3 capsules containing docosahexaenoic acid (or DHA) or a placebo capsule. The participants were followed for 18 months, and their cognitive and functional abilities were reassessed. They also underwent MRI to look at the brain.
There was no benefit seen in the patients taking omega‑3 fatty-acid supplements in either brain volume or cognitive function.
Comments: Does this study mean that DHA or omega‑3 in general are not good for the brain? No! This study suggests that taking DHA supplements after Alzheimer’s diagnosis is not helpful. Prior evidence shows that omega‑3 consumption (especially DHA) long before the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms reduces the risk of developing the disease. Indeed, several studies have shown that eating fish (the primary source in our diet of omega‑3 fatty acids) is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline or dementia.
The authors of the JAMA study also speculate that DHA supplements could be used as a treatment for people who have not yet been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but are already developing dementia pathology in their brain: “Individuals intermediate between healthy aging and dementia, such as those with mild cognitive impairment, might derive benefit from DHA supplementation, although further study will be necessary to test this hypothesis.”
In other words, may some foods be specifically good for brain function?
For a great in-depth review of the effects of food on the brain you can check out Fernando Gomez-Pinilla’s recent article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience (reference below). Here is an overview of the state off the research.
Several components of diet seem to have a positive effect on brain function.
Omega‑3 fatty acids
These acids are normal constituents of cell membranes and are essential for normal brain function. Omega‑3 fatty acids can be found in fish (salmon), kiwi, and walnuts. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is the most abundant omega‑3 fatty acid in cell membranes in the brain. The human body produces DHA but not enough. So we are dependent on the DHA that we get from what we eat.
A randomized double-blind controlled trial (which means seriously conducted scientific study) is currently looking at the effect of taking omega‑3 fatty acids on children’s performance at school in England. Preliminary results (Portwood, 2006) suggest that [Read more…] about Can food improve brain health?