More Evidence That Your Mother was Right: Marine Omega 3s Associated with Greater Brain Volume
What: Researchers from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study recently published findings showing that higher levels of marine sourced Omega 3 Fatty acids may be associated with greater brain volume and hippocampal volume over time. The study, released online in Neurology, followed over 1,000 women from the large Women’s Health Initiative research program. Measurements of EPA and DHA in blood samples (omega-3 index) were considered against brain volume measures at an 8 year follow up.
Why This Matters: The benefit of dietary supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids has been discussed as potentially supportive of long-term brain health, as these fatty acids may play a protective role in neuronal health. This study provides further evidence that a diet that includes marine-based omega-3 fatty acids may preserve brain function and particularly may be of benefit to memory health.
The Take Away: This study provides even more evidence why our mothers are right — fish is brain food, and we should all be eating more cold water fish in our diet, specifically those that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. It is important to note that the study found that only DHA and EPA in combination had an effect on brain health, and that neither component alone had any effect. In addition, the study looked only at marine sources of this fatty acid, so the findings cannot be used in support of other sources, such as plant based sources.
The Longlasting Benefits of Cognitive Training Benefits: 10 Years and Counting
What: Newly released findings from the ACTIVE trial, the largest study of cognitive training in the U.S., show that the benefits of training persist up to 10 years later. The ACTIVE study follows approximately 2800 subjects who were received cognitive training in 10 sessions over 1o years ago. For the first time, the study results demonstrated an effect on activities of daily living, with subjects reporting less difficulty with instrumental activities of daily living than those in the control group. In addition, the effects of training on specific abilities in the reasoning and speed of processing arms of the study were found to persist at the 10 year evaluation; interestingly, the training benefits of the memory training did not seem to hold up.
Why This Matters: These ACTIVE trial findings provide us with a picture of the long-term benefits of cognitive training. The idea that even a limited training trial a decade ago can matter to our everyday functioning and performance a decade later is amazing.
The Take Away: These findings provide even more support for the benefits of skills training and use of strategies, both which are part of our Total Brain Health blueprint. While the benefits specifically of the memory training did not hold up at the 10 year assessment, this may have more to do with the types of memory strategies taught that the true benefit of such techniques.