The Western diet can impair memory function
05/24/2019 // Evangelyn Rodriguez // Views

Researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany investigated the utility of spatial separation – a behavioral process associated with the hippocampus – in the assessment of dietary interventions and the behavioral effects of the transgenerational administration of a Western diet on pattern separation. The results of their study were published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.

  • Pattern separation is the process of keeping items distinct in memory mediated by the hippocampus.
  • Previous studies have suggested a relationship between hippocampal function and diet quality in both humans and animals.
  • To examine the association between them, the researchers used rats and fed over seven generations of them a diet containing increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids (Western diet).
  • They compared the spatial pattern separation (or local discrimination) performance of these animals with that of rats fed a standard diet.
  • They found a separation-dependent difference between the standard and Western diet groups in the number of discriminations performed in the pattern separation task: The rats fed with a Western diet performed fewer discriminations.
  • They confirmed that pattern separation can be impaired by transgenerational administration of a Western diet.
  • For their future studies, they plan to determine which components of the diet induced the memory impairments related to the hippocampus and investigate the relevance of these findings in the treatment of mental disorders, such as dementia and depression.

The researchers concluded that spatial pattern separation can help detect the effects of dietary interventions and that the Western diet can impair pattern separation.

Read the full study at this link.

Journal Reference:

Lange KW, Stollberg E, Nakamura Y, Hauser J. BEHAVIORAL ASSESSMENT OF HIPPOCAMPAL FUNCTION FOLLOWING DIETARY INTERVENTION. Food Science and Human Wellness. September 2018;7(3):229–233. DOI: 10.1016/j.fshw.2018.07.001

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