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Title: Morning nutrition and executive function processes in preadolescents: modulation of frontal event-related theta, beta and gamma EEG oscillations during a go/ no-go task

item PIVIK, RUDOLPH - Arkansas Children'S Nutrition Research Center (ACNC)
item DYKMAN, ROSCOE - University Of Louisville

Submitted to: Society for Neuroscience Abstracts and Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/30/2009
Publication Date: 10/21/2009
Citation: Pivik, R.T., Dykman, R.A. 2009, Morning nutrition and executive function processes in preadolescents: modulation of frontal event-related theta, beta and gamma EEG oscillations during a go/ no-go task. Program No. 675.7. 2009 Neuroscience Meeting Planner. Chicago, IL: Society for Neuroscience, 2009. Online.

Interpretive Summary: We studied whether eating breakfast would affect brain activity related to attention and behavioral control in healthy children performing a task requiring them to make or withhold a motor response to specific visual stimuli. Children were tested in the morning first while all were fasting and then again after they had either eaten or skipped breakfast. Compared with children who skipped breakfast, those who ate breakfast showed better performance that was associated with changes in brain activity indicating increased arousal, attention, and memory. These findings suggest that brain activity related to behavioral control may be influenced by short-term variations in morning nutrition in healthy children.

Technical Abstract: Executive functions (i.e., goal-directed behavior such as inhibition and flexibility of action) have been linked to frontal brain regions and to covariations in oscillatory brain activity, e.g., theta and gamma activity. We studied the effects of morning nutritional status on executive function relationships by performing time-frequency decomposition analyses on frontal EEG activity recorded from healthy, right-handed children (8-11 yrs. old; IQ > 80) performing a cued visual go/no-go task. The frequency bands of interest (theta, beta, gamma) were selected because of their demonstrated involvement in processes important in learning and performance [i.e., arousal and motor behaviors (beta); attention (theta), memory (theta, gamma) and perceptual binding (gamma)]. Children were tested after overnight fasting (Phase 1), and again (Phase 2) after eating a standardized breakfast (n = 44; 21 males) or while continuing to fast (n = 48; 28 males). Performance measures—-accuracy and reaction time (RT)—-were obtained. Data were analyzed using ANOVA procedures with post-hoc t-tests. Response accuracy was similar across groups. RT slowed from Phase 1 to Phase 2 for fasting, but not fed children (p < .01). Consistent with increased executive function demands associated with response inhibition, theta power was greater to no-go than go stimuli (p < .05) for both groups. Relative to Phase 1 values for both stimulus conditions, during Phase 2 beta power increased in fed children and gamma power decreased in fasting children (p <.05). Children who ate breakfast show improvements in performance associated with covariations in frequency-specific neuronal oscillations known to be important in cognition and learning. In addition to indicating enhanced executive function processes in these children, the results show a sensitivity of frontal executive function processes to short-term variations in nutrition in healthy preadolescents.