Memory forms an important part of our cognitive health and it may get affected by a number of factors, including the quality of diet. There are different types of memories as well and researchers have been probing the effects of various changes on each of these variants. There is some evidence to suggest a link between cognitive health and memory. A new study has said that a poor diet characterised by excessive consumption of junk foods may affect long-term spatial memory. Spatial memory is a part of memory that records details of one's physical environment and spatial orientation. The study was conducted on rats.
The study titled, "Pattern of access to cafeteria-style diet determines fat mass and degree of spatial memory impairments in rats" was published in the journal 'Scientific Reports'. The study was conducted by researchers at UNSW, Sydney. For the study, the researchers measured the impact of high-calorie foods, rich in fats and sugar and compared it to their regular, healthy diet. The rat were fed with unhealthy foods such as chips, biscuits, cakes, pies etc. in intervals of three, five or seven consecutive days separated by their regular and healthy chow diet. The rats were observed for a period of a total of six weeks.
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Researchers found that the rats' spatial memory recognition was negatively impacted during the days of the consumption of junk food. The study concluded by saying, "In summary, the present results show that the pattern of access to unhealthy diets is a critical determinant of their cognitive effects. Cycling access to CAF diet impaired place recognition memory only when access was provided for 5 or 7 consecutive days per week, controlling for total duration of exposure and with no differences in energy intake. This introduces the concept that, all else being equal, how consumption of different diets is distributed over time matters for long-term cognitive and physical health."
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