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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #341510

Research Project: Nutrition, Brain, and Aging

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Food for thought: how diet influences cognitive function and emotion

item SPENCER, SARAH - Royal Melbourne Institute Of Technology University
item KOROSI, ANIKO - University Of Amsterdam
item LAYE, SOPHIE - Institut National De La Recherche Agronomique (INRA)
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item BARRIENTOS, RUTH - University Of Colorado

Submitted to: NPJ Science of Food
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/21/2017
Publication Date: 12/6/2017
Citation: Spencer, S.J., Korosi, A., Laye, S., Shukitt Hale, B., Barrientos, R.M. 2017. Food for thought: how diet influences cognitive function and emotion. NPJ Science of Food. 1(7).

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: More than one third of American adults are obese and statistics are similar worldwide. Caloric intake and diet composition have large and lasting effects on cognition and emotion, especially during critical periods in development, but the neural mechanisms for these effects are not well understood. This review addresses recent work linking dietary fat intake and omega 3 dietary imbalance with inflammation in developing, adult, and aged brains. We discuss how early life diet and exposure to stress can lead to cognitive dysfunction throughout life and the potential of early nutritional interventions (e.g. with essential micronutrients) for preventing these deficits. We present evidence that acute consumption of a high-fat diet primes the hippocampus to produce a potentiated neuroinflammatory response to a mild immune challenge, causing memory deficits. We describe how low dietary intake of omega 3 fatty acids contributes to depression through its effects on endocannabinoid and inflammatory pathways in specific brain regions leads to synaptic phagocytosis by microglia in the hippocampus, contributing to memory loss. Finally, we show that consumption of fruits and vegetables high in polyphenolics can prevent and even reverse age-related cognitive deficits by lowering oxidative stress and inflammation. Understanding relationships between diet, cognition, and emotion will uncover mechanisms involved in and strategies to prevent or attenuate comorbid neurological conditions in obese individuals. The work discussed in this review was presented by the authors in the “Food for Thought: how diet influences cognitive function and emotion.” symposium, Society for Neuroscience, 2016.