Food and Behaviour Research

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Cognitive deficits in docosahexaenoic acid-deficient rats

Catalan J, Moriguchi T, Slotnick B, Murthy M, Greiner RS, Salem N Jr. (2002) Behav Neurosci.  116(6): 1022-31. 

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Abstract:

This study investigated the influence of brain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) deficiency on simple and complex olfactory-based learning and memory in 2nd generation (F2) adult male rats.

Rats raised and maintained on either an n-3-adequate or an n-3-deficient diet were tested for acquisition of an olfactory learning set and an olfactory memory task, and for motivation to obtain a water reward.

Despite a 76% decrease in brain DHA, n-3-deficient rats were able to acquire most simple 2-odor discrimination tasks but were deficient in the acquisition of a 20-problem olfactory learning set.

This deficit could not be attributed to changes in sensory capacity but, instead, appeared to represent a deficit in higher order learning.