Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Brain Development
headline bar

Effects of Diet and Nutritional Status on Brain Development and Cognitive Function

The importance of adequate nutrition in establishing and maintaining physical and mental health is generally acknowledged. This is particularly true in infants and children because of the sensitivity of developmental processes to nutritional influences during these early formative years. However, the way nutrition interacts with other variables to effect physical, intellectual and emotional well-being is poorly understood. Our investigations are designed to clarify the role of nutrition in these processes by identifying psychologic, physiologic, and performance measures sensitive to dietary factors, such as diet composition, quantity and timing of meals. To do this, we relate behavioral and electrophysiologic measures to nutritional variables and cognitive processes involved in such fundamental processes as attention, learning and memory. Determining the immediate and long-term nature of these relationships in infants and children will help us realize the overall goal of our research, which is to more clearly specify nutritional variables that will optimize healthy development and behavior.


Last Modified: 8/29/2011