Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Monkeys that eat omega-3 rich diet show more developed brain networks

Study gives new insight into similarity of complex brain networks in monkeys, humans

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.

About OHSU

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!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>