Can omega-3s boost cognitive performance?
Can omega-3s boost
An omega-3 fatty acid plentiful in fish oil boosts the ability of healthy young adults, whose brains are already at their peak levels of speed and performance, to hold several items in memory for a short time, a study has found. The study is the first to suggest that fish oil might enhance cognitive performance in healthy people by boosting their working memory.
The latest research adds to evidence of fish oil’s beneficial neuropsychiatric effects: Supplementation with the docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, in fish oil has been shown to improve the effectiveness of antidepressants, to improve focus in those with attention deficits, to delay the development of psychosis in those at risk of schizophrenia, and to help shore up declining memory in healthy older adults. But the latest research failed to uncover how the polyunsaturated fatty acid works to promote such wide-ranging benefits.
In the study, published Tuesday in the open-access journal Public Library of Science, 11 healthy Caucasian adults with an average age of 22 underwent a six-month supplementation of their diet with fish oil (750 mg per day of DHA and 930 mg per day of eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA).
Researchers measured before-and-after levels of omega-3 acids in the red-blood-cell membranes of subjects and put them through a battery of tests to gauge the strength of their working — or short-term — memory.
After six months of supplementation with fish oil, the youthful subjects did 23 percent better on a key challenge to working memory: the ability to recall, given a list of several items, which one was mentioned three items back.
The mystery of how omega-3s work to rev up the brain, however, remains intact.
— THE LOS ANGELES TIMES