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Monkeys that eat omega-3 rich diet show more developed brain networks
Date:2/5/2014

PORTLAND, Ore. 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 th
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Contact: Todd Murphy
murphyt@ohsu.edu
503-494-8231
Oregon Health & Science University
Source:Eurekalert  

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