SPECT study shows ‘fish oil’ fatty acids benefiting the brain

A study running in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease bears out a correlation between higher concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in the bloodstream with both better neurocognitive function and increased perfusion in regions of the brain that handle learning, memory, depression and dementia.

The research team, led by Daniel Amen, MD, of Costa Mesa, California-based Amen Clinics, looked at a random sampling of 166 participants from a psychiatric referral clinic for whom omega-3 index results were available.

The participants were imaged with quantitative brain SPECT (single-photon emission CT) on 128 regions of their brains.

The researchers observed statistically significant relationships between the omega-3 index, neurocognitive testing and regional perfusion on brain SPECT in areas involved with memory.

In a press release sent by the journal, co-author William Harris, PhD, of the University of South Dakota says the results are preliminary but promising.  

“Although we have considerable evidence that omega-3 levels are associated with better cardiovascular health, the role of the ‘fish oil’ fatty acids in mental health and brain physiology is just beginning to be explored,” Harris says. “This study opens the door to the possibility that relatively simple dietary changes could favorably impact cognitive function.”