Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour
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Thesis defense Carola Janssen (Donders Series 198)

17 November 2015
Promotor: Prof. dr. T. Kozicz, Prof. dr. A. Heerschap ; copromotor: dr. A. Kiliaan, dr. J.R. Homberg
Nourishing the brain from cradle to grave: The role of nutrients in neural development and neurodegeneration

Nutrition influences the health status of the brain. Carola Janssen studied the role of nutrients during development and degeneration of the brain. She studied the effects of dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoids, a specific group of polyphenols, during pregnancy and throughout life. In addition, she studied the influence of a high-fat diet on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. This thesis demonstrates that omega-3 fatty acids support the development of the brain by improving functions such as spatial memory and motor coordination. Flavonoids affect the development of the brain to a lesser extent by alterations in general activity, spatial learning and brain circulation. A limited intake of cholesterol and saturated fats appears to protect from neurodegeneration in mouse models at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. These results indicate that a balanced diet is the key to developing and maintaining a healthy brain.