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Brain imaging offers 'critical' chance to study effects of diet: Expert review

By Nathan Gray+

02-Aug-2013

Brain imaging techniques offer researchers a critical opportunity to study the long term effects of how nutrition effects cognition and brain functions, according to a review from the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI).

Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, experts from European research institutions and industry - including Unilever, DSM, Pfizer and Danone - describe several brain imaging technologies that can be used to assess the effects of nutritional interventions in humans.

The team noted that despite great progress in understanding the relations between brain function and nutrition, much research is held up by issues with practical feasibility or methodological constraints. To remedy this, the review offers expert insights on eight imaging techniques.

“The principal added value of brain imaging measures for human nutritional intervention studies is their ability to provide unique in vivo information and to relate structural, metabolic and electrophysiological changes to mental performance," said Dr Sizonenko from the University of Genève - first author of the study.

"Specifically, we summarise the biological relevance of their outcome measures, practical use and feasibility, and recommended use in short- and long-term nutritional studies," explained the authors, who all form part of the ILSI expert group.

The paper was commissioned and funded by the Nutrition and Mental Performance Task Force of ILSI, Europe. ILSI said that a key aim of the project was to provide guidance for incorporation of brain imaging techniques into nutrition intervention protocols by drawing on the combined experience of academic and industry experts in both imaging modalities and nutrition.

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