Monkeys that ate a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids had brains with highly connected and well organized neural networks — in some ways akin to the neural networks in healthy humans — while monkeys that ate a diet deficient in the fatty acids had much more limited brain networking, according to an Oregon Health & Science University study.
The study, published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, provides further evidence for the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in healthy brain development. It also represents the first time scientists have been able to use functional brain imaging in live animals to see the large-scale interaction of multiple brain networks in a monkey. These patterns are remarkably similar to the networks found in humans using the same imaging techniques.
"The data shows the benefits in how the monkeys' brains organize over their lifetime if in the setting of a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids," said Damien Fair, PA-C, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral neuroscience and assistant professor of psychiatry in the OHSU School of Medicine and senior author on the paper. "The data also shows in detail how similar the networks in a monkey brain are to networks in a human brain, but only in the context of a diet rich in omega-3-fatty acids."
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids for the human body. But while they are needed for human health, the body can't make them — it has to get them through food.
The study measured a kind of 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 especially found in fatty fish and oils from those fish — including salmon, mackerel and tuna. Research by a co-author on the paper, Martha Neuringer, Ph.D., an associate scientist in the Division of Neuroscience at OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center, previously showed the importance of DHA for infants’ visual development — a finding that led to the addition of DHA to infant formulas.
The scientists studied a group of older rhesus macaque monkeys — 17 to 19 years of age — from ONPRC that had been fed all of their lives 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, said David Grayson, a former research assistant in Fair's lab and first author on the paper. Grayson is now studying at the Center for Neuroscience, University of California-Davis.
"For example, we could see activity and connections within areas of the macaque brain that are important in the human brain for attention," said Fair.
Now that those measurements and monitoring are possible, Fair said, the next step 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 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and autism.
Fair, who was among the 102 people given the 2013 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers by President Barack Obama, is a leader in using the same kind of brain imaging to explore brain networks in children with ADHD and autism. He said he hopes to use these non-invasive brain imaging techniques to provide an important link between research in humans and animals in order to better characterize, treat, and prevent these types of developmental mental health issues.
Fair added that another longer-term goal would be to study brain development in the monkeys fed various diets from birth into maturity.
"It would be important to see how a diet high in omega-3s might affect brain development early on in their lives, and across their lifespan," Fair said.
The study was funded by the Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (through National Institutes of Health grant UL1TR000128), several other NIH grants (grants UL1 RR024140, P510D011092, K99/R00 MH091238, R01 MH096773, EY13199, and DK29930) and the Foundation Fighting Blindness.
About OHSU Brain Institute
The Oregon Health & Science University Brain Institute is a national neuroscience leader in patient care, research and education. With more than 1,000 brain scientists and specialists, OHSU is home to one of the largest communities of brain and central nervous system experts in the nation. OHSU Brain Institute scientists have won national recognition for breaking new ground in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and for discoveries that have led to new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke and other brain disorders and diseases.
Oregon Health & Science University is a nationally prominent research university and Oregon’s only public academic health center. It serves patients throughout the region with a Level 1 trauma center and nationally recognized Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. OHSU operates dental, medical, nursing and pharmacy schools that rank high both in research funding and in meeting the university’s social mission. OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute helped pioneer personalized medicine through a discovery that identified how to shut down cells that enable cancer to grow without harming healthy ones. OHSU Brain Institute scientists are nationally recognized for discoveries that have led to a better understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and stroke. OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute is a global leader in ophthalmic imaging, and in clinical trials related to eye disease.
Todd Murphy | EurekAlert!
Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences