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Nat Neurosci. 2014 Dec;17(12):1798-803. doi: 10.1038/nn.3850. Epub 2014 Oct 26.

Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults.

Author information

1
1] Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA. [2] Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
2
Center for Neural Science, New York University, New York, New York, USA.
3
MARS Inc., McLean, Virginia, USA.
4
1] Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA. [2] New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York, USA.
5
1] Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA. [2] Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA. [3] Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA. [4] Department of Radiology, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.

Abstract

The dentate gyrus (DG) is a region in the hippocampal formation whose function declines in association with human aging and is therefore considered to be a possible source of age-related memory decline. Causal evidence is needed, however, to show that DG-associated memory decline in otherwise healthy elders can be improved by interventions that enhance DG function. We addressed this issue by first using a high-resolution variant of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map the precise site of age-related DG dysfunction and to develop a cognitive task whose function localized to this anatomical site. Then, in a controlled randomized trial, we applied these tools to study healthy 50-69-year-old subjects who consumed either a high or low cocoa flavanol-containing diet for 3 months. A high-flavanol intervention was found to enhance DG function, as measured by fMRI and by cognitive testing. Our findings establish that DG dysfunction is a driver of age-related cognitive decline and suggest non-pharmacological means for its amelioration.

Comment in

PMID:
25344629
PMCID:
PMC4940121
DOI:
10.1038/nn.3850
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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