Monounsaturated fats are nutrients found in olive oil, avocadoes and nuts –foods common in the Mediterranean diet, which inspired the research team to start the study.
Eating well for intelligence
Published in Neurolmage journal, the study took 99 healthy adults and compared the fatty acid nutrients in their blood. The research team also looked at MRI data to measure brain network efficiency, and considered the results of a general intelligence test.
"In this study, we examined the relationship between groups of fatty acids and brain networks that underlie general intelligence. In doing so, we sought to understand if brain network organisation mediated the relationship between fatty acids and general intelligence,” said lead author Marta Zamroziewicz.
Study leader Aron Barbey added: "Our goal is to understand how nutrition might be used to support cognitive performance and to study the ways in which nutrition may influence the functional organisation of the human brain.”
"This is important because if we want to develop nutritional interventions that are effective at enhancing cognitive performance, we need to understand the ways that these nutrients influence brain function."
The findings? People with higher levels of MUFAs had more efficient dorsal attention networks in the brain (the part responsible for problem-solving and attention-demanding activities).
"Our results suggest that if we want to understand the relationship between MUFAs and general intelligence, we need to take the dorsal attention network into account. It's part of the underlying mechanism that contributes to their relationship," said Barbey.
The research team says more research needs to be done into diet and its affects on intelligence and cognitive function. I say, pass the olive oil and avo!