Food and Behaviour Research

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23 November 2016 - NutraIngredients - Plant compounds found to boost neural efficiency in elderly: Study

Will Chu

Compounds responsible for the colour of plants and vegetables have shown brain enhancing properties in a study that tests the carotenoids on older adults.

It is well known that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin improve eye health and latest evidence suggests cognitive benefits as well. 
 
Compounds responsible for the colour of plants and vegetables have shown brain enhancing properties in a study that tests the carotenoids on older adults.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to establish the neural mechanisms these compounds act upon in order to bolster cognitive ability.
 
It reveals that the compounds, lutein and zeaxanthin, lowered the amount of oxygen carried in the blood to specific areas of the brain.
 
In other words individuals with higher levels of lutein and zeaxanthin didn't require as much brain activity to complete the task, enhancing neural efficiency.

"If you can show that in fact there's a real mechanism behind this, then you could potentially use these nutritional supplements or changes in diet, and you could easily intervene and potentially improve cognition in older adults," said L. Stephen Miller, a professor of psychology and co-author of the study.