All the participants underwent 3-D MRIs, so the researchers could map out the size of each individual's gray matter and track it over 10 years. They also completed the U.S. National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire.
The team then stacked up gray matter changes against dietary consumption as reported in the questionnaire.
The questionnaires revealed that 163 of the study participants ate fish at least once a week, with most consuming fish between one and four times a week.
With that information, the authors found that regardless of age, gender, physical activity routines, and/or educational achievement, race or weight, those who ate baked or broiled fish had larger mass in the hippocampus, precuneus, posterior cingulate and orbital frontal cortex regions of their brains.
The team further observed that people who ate baked or broiled fish weekly displayed better so-called "working memory," enabling them to more effectively execute routine tasks.
But fish and chips lovers, take note: No cranial benefit was evident with respect to consumption of fried fish.
The team cautioned that while eating baked and broiled fish appears to exert some cognitive benefit, other lifestyle and socioeconomic factors may play a role. For now, the connection must be viewed as an association, rather than a cause-and-effect.
Dr. Richard Lipton, vice chair of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, reiterated the point.
"One has to wonder if there are other factors associated with fish consumption that they didn't measure that might be protective," he said. "Like maybe people who eat fish exercise more, or eat less total calories. Or they could be eating other components of a Mediterranean Diet, such as fruits and vegetables."
Lipton added that "this group of researchers is really, really good," and called the study results "a very interesti
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