In the first study of its kind, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have determined that healthy young adults, ages 18-25, can improve their working memory even further by increasing their omega-3 fatty acid intake.
For the study, the research team had healthy young men and women from all ethnicities to boost their omega-3 intake with supplements for six months. They were monitored monthly through phone calls and outpatient procedures.
Before they began taking the supplements, all participants underwent positron emission tomography (PET) imaging and their blood samples were analyzed. They were then asked to perform a working memory test in which they were shown a series of letters and numbers. The participants had to keep track of what appeared one, two, and three times prior, known as a simple "n-back test."
Prior to taking the supplements, test scores were already positively correlated with omega-3 fat blood levels.
After six months of taking and omega-3 supplement, the participants were asked to complete this series of tests and blood work again. It was during this last stage, that the improved working memory of the study participants was revealed.
Previous animal studies suggest that removing omega-3 from the diet reduces dopamine storage (the brain chemical associated with mood and working memory) and decrease a protein associated with decision-making.
SOURCE: PLSO One
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