October 31, 2012- In just the first study of this type, University of Pittsburgh researchers have found that young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, who are healthy, can improve working memory further by increasing the intake of Omega-3 through fish out supplements.
The principal investigator in the study was Rajesh Narendarn an associate radiology professor. His team recruited young, healthy males and females of varying ethnicities. The intake of Omega-3 was increased in the participants for a period of six months. Each month, the participants were monitored through outpatient procedures and phone conversations.
Prior to starting to take the supplements, the participants underwent PET imaging or positron emission tomography and had blood samples analyzed. Following that, they were asked to perform a test of working memory. In the test, they were shown a series of numbers and letters. The men and women were required to keep track of the numbers or letters that appeared up to three times prior, which is known as the n-back test.
Following six months of an increased intake of Omega-3, the participants completed the same outpatient procedures, which included the n-back test and blood test. A substantial increase in the participants working memory resulted.
One researcher said the data shows that people are able to enhance working memory performance more, despite already being at the height of their cognitive level.
Even though the study resulted in positive results, none of the researchers knows why the increased intake of Omega-3 would result in this effect on young, healthy adults. The study could not isolate one probable cause.
Researchers in the study said it was interesting to find out how diets that were enriched with the Omega-3 supplements could enhance the cognition in young individuals who are highly functional. Nevertheless, they were disappointed that their imaging studies could not clarify what mechanisms enhanced the working memory.