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Brain Imaging and Human Nutrition: Which Measures to Use in Intervention Studies?


British Journal of Nutrition. 2013;110(Suppl.1)S1-S30

What we eat, or refrain from eating, may have an important impact on our cognitive abilities and mental performance. Changes in brain functions can be long-term events difficult to demonstrate by traditional means. Brain imaging offers the critical opportunity to study how nutrition affects brain functions. In this review, 8 types of brain imaging techniques are described for the detection of nutrient impacts on brain structure and function, over the lifespan but particularly during development and decline. The brain is a highly active organ that utilises a large proportion of total nutrients and energy throughout the lifespan. Furthermore, the development and repair of neural tissue depends on the proper intake of essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Despite great progress in understanding the relations between brain function and nutrition, research is hindered by practical feasibility or methodological constraints. This document reviews the information provided by each technique, suitability for different populations, past use in nutrition interventions and utility for future investigations. The principal added value of brain imaging measures for human nutritional intervention studies is their ability to provide unique in vivo information and to relate structural, metabolic and electrophysiological changes to mental performance.  The review points to the ability of imaging to detect the very early impacts of nutrients on brain structure and function.

The open-access PDF is accessible here.

A brief summary has been presented at “Experimental Biology 2013, Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Massachusetts, USA” and is available here.

For more information, please contact publications@ilsieurope.be.