Diet and the Brain

Our laboratory has had a major focus on understanding the role of fatty acids in the diet in normal and abnormal human cognition. Our prior studies have examined the effects of a diet higher in saturated fat (palmatic acid) compared to a diet relatively higher in a monounsaturated fat (oleic acid) to examine brain functioning. We have shown in prior studies that the diet high in saturated fat resulted in an increase in inflammatory markers in the blood. We propose that this increased inflammation affects brain functioning. Our lab has examined these relationships in healthy younger and middle aged women and is beginning to expand our studies to fatty acid effects on brain functioning older adults.



  • Julie Dumas, Ph.D.
  • C. Lawrence Kien, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Janice Bunn, Ph.D.
  • Matthew Poynter, Ph.D.
  • Michael LaMantia, M.D.

We are most grateful for the enthusiastic participation of our volunteers, without whom none of this research could take place.