As people grow older, many of them make changes to their diet for the sake of their health. Those who have an interest in keeping their mind sharp later in life may even turn to foods they hear can have positive effects on the brain, such as fish rich with omega-3 fatty acids.
Various species of fish, such as salmon and swordfish, are known to contain high amounts of docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. This omega-3 fatty acid has been linked to improved memory function among those who regularly consume fish.
To find out why a diet rich with DHA-heavy fish has the potential to improve individuals’ memory, researchers from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry conducted a study, which appears in the journal "Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism."
Over the course of the study, researchers found that a diet heavy in DHA led to 30 percent more of this fatty acid in the hippocampus, the portion of the brain that plays a role in the creation, organization and storing of memory.
"What we discovered is that memory cells in the hippocampus could communicate better with each other and better relay messages when DHA levels in that region of the brain were higher," said Yves Sauve, the study’s principal investigator.
If individuals already eat fish on a regular basis, they may want to see what effect it has had on their cognitive abilities by taking an IQ test.