Sucrose & Neuroproliferation
Meet the Scientist
Dr. Amy Reichelt (@foodonthemind) is a BrainsCAN postdoctoral research associate at Western University, Canada. Her research examines how diet and obesity impacts behaviour. Read her description of the work that she does below!
Excessive consumption of high sugar food and drinks can lead to the development of obesity, but research shows that they also have a profound impact on brain function .
Our brains not only make us want to eat more of these foods because they activate the reward system (mesocorticolimbic dopamine system), but these delicious foods also impact areas critical for forming memories.
The hippocampus is a key memory centre, and research has shown that high sugar diets reduce neuroproliferation . This is the
process where new brain cells (neurons) are born, and occurs in a region of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus.
These new neurons are important for efficiently forming memories. Research with rats and mice who consume high sugar diets has shown reductions in these young neurons, as well as memory problems in tasks that depend on the hippocampus.
So here’s some food for thought - next time you feel like snacking on candies or drinking soft drinks while studying, remember that they could negatively impact your learning!
Jurdak, N., & Kanarek, R. B., 2009, Physiology & Behavior
 Reichelt, A. C., et al., 2016, Learning & Memory
 Deng, W., et al., 2010, Nature Reviews Neuroscience
Van der Borght, K., et al., 2011, Regulatory Peptides