Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Access
  • Cited by 33
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Hardman, Roy J. Kennedy, Greg Macpherson, Helen Scholey, Andrew B. and Pipingas, Andrew 2016. Adherence to a Mediterranean-Style Diet and Effects on Cognition in Adults: A Qualitative Evaluation and Systematic Review of Longitudinal and Prospective Trials. Frontiers in Nutrition, Vol. 3,

    Knight, Alissa Bryan, Janet and Murphy, Karen 2016. Is the Mediterranean diet a feasible approach to preserving cognitive function and reducing risk of dementia for older adults in Western countries? New insights and future directions. Ageing Research Reviews, Vol. 25, p. 85.

    Lee, Sun Eun West, Keith P. Cole, Robert N. Schulze, Kerry J. Wu, Lee Shu-Fune Yager, James D. Groopman, John and Christian, Parul 2016. General intelligence is associated with subclinical inflammation in Nepalese children: A population-based plasma proteomics study. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Vol. 56, p. 253.

    Leung, Brenda M.Y. Giesbrecht, Gerald F. Letourneau, Nicole Field, Catherine J. Bell, Rhonda C. and Dewey, Deborah 2016. Perinatal nutrition in maternal mental health and child development: Birth of a pregnancy cohort. Early Human Development, Vol. 93, p. 1.

    Milte, Catherine M. and McNaughton, Sarah A. 2016. Dietary patterns and successful ageing: a systematic review. European Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 55, Issue. 2, p. 423.

    Andreeva, Valentina and Kesse-Guyot, Emmanuelle 2015. Nutrition for Brain Health and Cognitive Performance.

    Creegan, Rhona Hunt, Wendy McManus, Alexandra and Rainey-Smith, Stephanie R. 2015. Diet, nutrients and metabolism: cogs in the wheel driving Alzheimer's disease pathology?. British Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 113, Issue. 10, p. 1499.

    Dauncey, Margaret 2015. Prenatal and Childhood Nutrition.

    Dauncey, Margaret Joy 2015. Diet and Exercise in Cognitive Function and Neurological Diseases.

    de Vries, Giel-Jan Lok, Anja Mocking, Roel Assies, Johanna Schene, Aart and Olff, Miranda 2015. Altered one-carbon metabolism in posttraumatic stress disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, Vol. 184, p. 277.

    Strasser, Barbara and Fuchs, Dietmar 2015. Role of physical activity and diet on mood, behavior, and cognition. Neurology, Psychiatry and Brain Research, Vol. 21, Issue. 3, p. 118.

    Warthon-Medina, M Moran, V H Stammers, A-L Dillon, S Qualter, P Nissensohn, M Serra-Majem, L and Lowe, N M 2015. Zinc intake, status and indices of cognitive function in adults and children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, Issue. 6, p. 649.

    Alfos, Serge 2014. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Brain and Neurological Health.

    Barberger-Gateau, P 2014. Nutrition and brain aging: how can we move ahead?. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 68, Issue. 11, p. 1245.

    Coelho de Velasco, Patricia and Serfaty, Claudio Alberto 2014. Handbook of Nutrition, Diet and the Eye.

    Dauncey, M J 2014. Nutrition, the brain and cognitive decline: insights from epigenetics. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 68, Issue. 11, p. 1179.

    Han, Jee-Young and Han, Seol-Heui 2014. Primary Prevention of Alzheimer's Disease: Is It an Attainable Goal?. Journal of Korean Medical Science, Vol. 29, Issue. 7, p. 886.

    Mohamed Moosa, Zulfiah Daniels, Willie M. U. and Mabandla, Musa V. 2014. The effects of prenatal methylmercury exposure on trace element and antioxidant levels in rats following 6-hydroxydopamine-induced neuronal insult. Metabolic Brain Disease, Vol. 29, Issue. 2, p. 459.

    Serfaty, Claudio Alberto and de Velasco, Patricia Coelho 2014. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Brain and Neurological Health.

    Vassiloudis, Ioannis Yiannakouris, Nikolaos Panagiotakos, Demosthenes B. Apostolopoulos, Konstantinos and Costarelli, Vassiliki 2014. Academic Performance in Relation to Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and Energy Balance Behaviors in Greek Primary Schoolchildren. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Vol. 46, Issue. 3, p. 164.

  • Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, Volume 68, Issue 4
  • November 2009, pp. 408-415

New insights into nutrition and cognitive neuroscience: Symposium on ‘Early nutrition and later disease: current concepts, research and implications’

  • M. J. Dauncey (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 24 August 2009

Nutrition can affect the brain throughout the life cycle, with profound implications for mental health and degenerative disease. Many aspects of nutrition, from entire diets to specific nutrients, affect brain structure and function. The present short review focuses on recent insights into the role of nutrition in cognition and mental health and is divided into four main sections. First, the importance of nutritional balance and nutrient interactions to brain health are considered by reference to the Mediterranean diet, energy balance, fatty acids and trace elements. Many factors modulate the effects of nutrition on brain health and inconsistencies between studies can be explained in part by differences in early environment and genetic variability. Thus, these two factors are considered in the second and third parts of the present review. Finally, recent findings on mechanisms underlying the actions of nutrition on the brain are considered. These mechanisms involve changes in neurotrophic factors, neural pathways and brain plasticity. Advances in understanding the critical role of nutrition in brain health will help to fulfil the potential of nutrition to optimise brain function, prevent dysfunction and treat disease.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      New insights into nutrition and cognitive neuroscience
      Your Kindle email address
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      New insights into nutrition and cognitive neuroscience
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      New insights into nutrition and cognitive neuroscience
      Available formats
Corresponding author
Corresponding author: Dr M. J. Dauncey, email
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

1.P Barberger-Gateau , C Raffaitin , L Letenneur (2007) Dietary patterns and risk of dementia. Neurology 69, 19211930.

2.JA Luchsinger , JM Noble & N Scarmeas (2007) Diet and Alzheimer's disease. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep 7, 366372.

4.CS Stokes (2008) Foods for the brain – can they make you smarter? Nutr Bull 33, 221223.

5.EM van der Beek & JGH Kamphuis (2008) The potential role of nutritional components in the management of Alzheimer's Disease. Eur J Pharmacol 585, 197207.

6.F Sofi , C Cesari , R Abbate (2008) Adherence to Mediterranean diet and health status: meta-analysis. Br Med J 337, a1344.

7.N Scarmeas , Y Stern , R Mayeux (2009) Mediterranean diet and mild cognitive impairment. Arch Neurol 66, 216225.

8.H-R Berthoud & C Morrison (2008) The brain, appetite and obesity. Annu Rev Psychol 59, 5592.

9.Q Gao & TL Horvath (2008) Neuronal control of energy homeostasis. FEBS Lett 582, 132141.

12.H Caswell & AR Denny (2008) Food and fitness for life: a British Nutrition Foundation 40th Anniversary Conference. Nutr Bull 33, 145149.

13.CH Hillman , KI Erickson & AF Kramer (2008) Be smart, exercise your heart: exercise effects on brain and cognition. Nature Rev Neurosci 9, 5865.

15.C Brayne , L Gao & F Matthews (2005) Challenges in the epidemiological investigation of the relationships between physical activity, obesity, diabetes, dementia and depression. Neurobiol Aging 26, Suppl., S6S10.

21.M Fotuhi , P Mohassel & K Yaffe (2009) Fish consumption, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer's disease: a complex association. Nat Clin Pract Neurol 5, 140152.

22.MD Parrott & CE Greenwood (2007) Dietary influences on cognitive function with aging. From high-fat diets to healthful eating. Ann NY Acad Sci 1114, 389397.

23.SM Innis (2008) Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. Brain Res 1237, 3543.

24.EM Novak , RA Dyer & SM Innis (2008) High dietary ω-6 fatty acids contribute to reduced docosahexaenoic acid in the developing brain and inhibit secondary neurite outgrowth. Brain Res 1237, 136145.

25.EM Widdowson , MJ Dauncey , DMT Gairdner (1975) Body fat of British and Dutch infants. Br Med J 1, 653655.

27.J Lunn & JL Buttriss (2008) Incorporating omega-3 in the food chain – why, where and how? Nutr Bull 33, 250256.

28.MC Morris , DA Evans , CC Tangney (2006) Dietary copper and high saturated and trans fat intakes associated with cognitive decline. Arch Neurol 63, 10851088.

29.LC Jones , JL Beard & BC Jones (2008) Genetic analysis reveals polygenic influences on iron, copper, and zinc in mouse hippocampus with neurobiological implications. Hippocampus 18, 398410.

30.T Kambe , BP Weaver & GK Andrews (2008) The genetics of essential metal homeostasis during development. Genesis 46, 214228.

31.M Murakami & T Hirano (2008) Intracellular zinc homeostasis and zinc signalling. Cancer Sci 99, 15151522.

32.LM Klevay (2008) Alzheimer's disease as copper deficiency. Med Hypotheses 70, 802807.

34.PK Lam , D Kritz-Silverstein , E Barrett-Connor (2008) Plasma trace elements and cognitive function in older men and women: The Rancho Bernardo Study. J Nutr Health Aging 12, 2227.

36.BJ Stoecker , Y Abebe , L Hubbs-Tait (2009) Zinc status and cognitive function of pregnant women in Southern Ethiopia. Eur J Clin Nutr (Epublication ahead of print version; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2008.77).

37.J Rowin & SL Lewis (2005) Copper deficiency myeloneuropathy and pancytopenia secondary to overuse of zinc supplementation. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 76, 750771.

39.MJ Dauncey , JC Shaw & J Urman (1977) The absorption and retention of magnesium, zinc, and copper by low birth weight infants fed pasteurized human breast milk. Pediatr Res 11, 10331039.

40.A Lucas (1994) Role of nutritional programming in determining adult morbidity. Arch Dis Child 71, 288290.

41.DJ Barker (1995) The fetal origins of adult disease. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 262, 3743.

43.ME Symonds , T Stephenson , DS Gardner (2007) Long-term effects of nutritional programming of the embryo and fetus: mechanisms and critical windows. Reprod Fertil Dev 19, 5363.

44.WJ Schull & M Otake (1999) Cognitive function and prenatal exposure to ionizing radiation. Teratology 59, 222226.

45.MC de Moraes Barros , R Guinsburg , SS Mitsuhiro (2008). Neurocomportamento de recém-nascidos a termo, pequenos para a idade gestacional, filhos de mães adolescentes (Neurobehavior of full-term small for gestational age newborn infants of adolescent mothers). J Pediatr (Rio J) 84, 217223.

46.B Larroque , P-Y Ancel , S Marret (2008) Neurodevelopmental disabilities and special care of 5-year-old children born before 33 weeks of gestation (the EPIPAGE study): a longitudinal cohort study. Lancet 371, 813820.

47.S Saigal & LW Doyle (2008) An overview of mortality and sequelae of preterm birth from infancy to adulthood. Lancet 371, 261269.

48.DIW Phillips (2007) Programming of the stress response: a fundamental mechanism underlying the long-term effects of the fetal environment? J Intern Med 261, 453460.

49.JR Hibbeln , JM Davis , C Steer (2007) Maternal seafood consumption in pregnancy and neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood (ALSPAC study): an observational cohort study. Lancet 369, 578585.

50.MS Kramer , F Aboud , E Mironova (2008) Breastfeeding and child cognitive development. New evidence from a large randomized trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry 65, 578584.

51.A Lucas , R Morley , TJ Cole (1992) Breast milk and subsequent intelligence quotient in children born preterm. Lancet 339, 261264.

52.GA Lodygensky , ML Seghier , SK Warfield (2008) Intrauterine growth restriction affects the preterm infant's hippocampus. Pediatr Res 63, 438443.

53.EB Isaacs , DG Gadian , S Sabatini (2008) The effect of early human diet on caudate volumes and IQ. Pediatr Res 63, 308314.

54.MJ Dauncey (1990) Activity and energy expenditure. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 68, 1727.

57.A Caspi , B Williams , J Kim-Cohen (2007) Moderation of breastfeeding effects on the IQ by genetic variation in fatty acid metabolism. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104, 1886018865.

58.B Aisbitt (2007) Obesity – should we blame our genes? Nutr Bull 32, 183186.

60.RJF Loos , T Rankinen , A Tremblay (2005) Melanocortin-4 receptor gene and physical activity in the Québec Family Study. Int J Obesity (Lond) 29, 420428.

61.RJF Loos , CM Lindgren , S Li (2008) Common variants near MC4R are associated with fat mass, weight and risk of obesity. Nature Genet 40, 768775.

62.A Catania (2008) Neuroprotective actions of melanocortins: a therapeutic opportunity. Trends Neurosci 31, 353360.

63.R Redon , S Ishikawa , KR Fitch (2006) Global variation in copy number in the human genome. Nature 444, 444454.

64.BE Stranger , MS Forrest , M Dunning (2007) Relative impact of nucleotide and copy number variation on gene expression phenotypes. Science 315, 848853.

66.RA Waterland & KB Michels (2007) Epigenetic epidemiology of the developmental origins hypothesis. Annu Rev Nutr 27, 363388.

67.N Tsankova , W Renthal , A Kumar (2007) Epigenetic regulation in psychiatric disorders. Nature Rev Neurosci 8, 355367.

68.MJ Dauncey , P White , KA Burton (2001) Nutrition–hormone receptor–gene interactions: implications for development and disease. Proc Nutr Soc 60, 6372.

69.M Bünger , GJEJ Hooiveld , S Kersten (2007) Exploration of PPAR functions by microarray technology – A paradigm for nutrigenomics. Biochim Biophys Acta 1771, 10461064.

70.A Bernardo & L Minghetti (2008) Regulation of glial cell functions by PPAR-γ natural and synthetic agonists. PPAR Research 2008, 864140; doi:10.1155/2008/864140.

71.CW Cotman , NC Berchtold & L-A Christie (2007) Exercise builds brain health: key roles of growth factor cascades and inflammation. Trends Neurosci 30, 464472.

72.A Wu , Z Ying & F Gómez-Pinilla (2008) Docosahexaenoic acid dietary supplementation enhances the effects of exercise on synaptic plasticity and cognition. Neuroscience 155, 751759.

73.AF Kramer & KI Erickson (2007) Capitalizing on cortical plasticity: influence of physical activity on cognition and brain function. Trends Cogn Sci 11, 342348.

74.RD Emes , AJ Pocklington , CNG Anderson (2008) Evolutionary expansion and anatomical specialization of synapse proteome complexity. Nature Neurosci 11, 799806.

75.N Toni , DA Laplagne , C Zhao (2008) Neurons born in the adult dentate gyrus form functional synapses with target cells. Nature Neurosci 11, 901907.

76.AM Stranahan , TV Arumugam (2008) Diabetes impairs hippocampal function through glucocorticoid-mediated effects on new and mature neurons. Nature Neurosci 11, 309317.

77.CJ Roberts (2008) The effects of stress on food choice, mood and bodyweight in health women. Nutr Bull 33, 3339.

78.NY Oei , WT Everaerd , BM Elzinga (2006) Psychosocial stress impairs working memory at high loads: an association with cortisol levels and memory retrieval. Stress 9, 133141.

79.AM MacLullich , IJ Deary , JM Starr (2005) Plasma cortisol levels, brain volumes and cognition in healthy elderly men. Psychoneuroendocrinology 30, 505515.

80.E Elgh , A Lindqvist Astot , M Fagerlund (2006) Cognitive dysfunction, hippocampal atrophy and glucocorticoid feedback in Alzheimer's disease. Biol Psychiatry 59, 155161.

81.RD Fields (2008) White matter in learning, cognition and psychiatric disorders. Trends Neurosci 31, 361370.

82.JN Giedd (2004) Structural magnetic resonance imaging of the adolescent brain. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1021, 7785.

83.H Als , FH Duffy , GB McAnulty (2004) Early experience alters brain function and structure. Pediatrics 113, 846857.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • ISSN: 0029-6651
  • EISSN: 1475-2719
  • URL: /core/journals/proceedings-of-the-nutrition-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *