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

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 in healthy 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 , 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 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 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 high in omega-3s might affect early on in their lives, and across their lifespan," Fair said.

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JVK
1 / 5 (1) Feb 06, 2014
Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors
http://www.socioa...38/20758

Excerpt:
Just as the influence of diet and pheromones can be in the larval stages or in other developmental stages of insects, it can also be in the pre- and postconception stages of mammals, including humans... For example, pheromones and nutrition could alter levels of maternal hormones, gestational events, and postnatal outcomes via their direct effect on maternal GnRH and the placenta. The outcomes might not always be positive, which means the possible effects should not be ignored. That would be like ignoring the likely effects of docosahexaenoic acid in the maternal and postnatal diet on LH and on neuronal development in the mammalian brain (Lassek & Gaulin, 2011).

Excerpt from (Lassek & Gaulin, 2011). "This suggests that increasing dietary intake of n-3 and decreasing n-6 fatty acids...
JVK
not rated yet Feb 06, 2014
A quantum theory for the irreplaceable role of docosahexaenoic acid in neural cell signalling throughout evolution

http://www.plefa....fulltext

Excerpted from above: "The study, published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, provides further evidence for the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in healthy brain development."

My comment: It also refutes the ridiculous idea of mutation-initiated natural selection by placing experimental evidence of nutrient selection into the context of ecological adaptations in species from microbes to man via conserved molecular mechanisms that link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA, which is what I did in:

Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model
http://www.socioa...53/27989