Presenting their findings at the American Psychosomatic Society's Annual Meeting, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh say they have established that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with increased grey matter volume in areas of the brain commonly linked to mood and behavior.
In a previous study from the same institution, it was found that people who had lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were more likely to have a negative outlook and be more impulsive. In the new study, the researchers sought to investigate if grey matter volume was proportionally related to omega-3 intake in humans, especially in areas of the brain related to mood.
Led by Sarah M. Conklin, the researchers determined the subjects' average intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and evaluated their grey matter volume using high-resolution structural MRI. They discovered that participants who had high levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid intake had higher volumes of grey matter in areas of the brain associated with emotional arousal and regulation - the bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, the right amygdala and the right hippocampus.
While this finding suggests that omega-3s may promote structural improvement in areas of the brain related to mood and emotion regulation, the researchers note that more research is needed to determine whether fish consumption actually causes these changes in the brain.
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Source: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences