Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults

Adam M. Brickman, Usman A. Khan, Frank A. Provenzano, Lok Kin Yeung, Wendy Suzuki, Hagen Schroeter, Melanie Wall, Richard P. Sloan, Scott A. Small

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The dentate gyrus (DG) is a region in the hippocampal formation whose function declines in association with human aging and is therefore considered to be a possible source of age-related memory decline. Causal evidence is needed, however, to show that DG-associated memory decline in otherwise healthy elders can be improved by interventions that enhance DG function. We addressed this issue by first using a high-resolution variant of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map the precise site of age-related DG dysfunction and to develop a cognitive task whose function localized to this anatomical site. Then, in a controlled randomized trial, we applied these tools to study healthy 50-69-year-old subjects who consumed either a high or low cocoa flavanol-containing diet for 3 months. A high-flavanol intervention was found to enhance DG function, as measured by fMRI and by cognitive testing. Our findings establish that DG dysfunction is a driver of age-related cognitive decline and suggest non-pharmacological means for its amelioration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1798-1803
Number of pages6
JournalNature Neuroscience
Volume17
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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    Brickman, A. M., Khan, U. A., Provenzano, F. A., Yeung, L. K., Suzuki, W., Schroeter, H., Wall, M., Sloan, R. P., & Small, S. A. (2014). Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults. Nature Neuroscience, 17(12), 1798-1803. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3850