Special Issue "Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 January 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sibylle Kranz
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Virginia, Department of Kinesiology, Curry School of Education, Charlottesville, Virginia USA
Interests: diet quality; childhood nutrition; school feeding; feelings of hunger and fullness; diet and learning; dietary guidance
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Julia Blodgett
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Human Services, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, USA
Interests: children's cognitive abilities; learning, attention/executive functioning; persistence and efficiency with school tasks; well-being
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

Learning is a life-long process. Children are expected to adopt the behaviors acceptable to their social environments and perform increasingly difficult academic skills as they get older. Adults must learn and perform new tasks in their work and our ever-changing environment. While the saying “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” may have been the accepted norm in the past, globalization and continually developing technological advances mandate that individuals continue to learn new skills even into the very advanced years of life.

Many children and adults struggle with learning and possible contributors to this challenge likely include lifestyle factors such as dietary intake habits, physical activity patterns, and sleep hygiene.  For example, diets rich in sugar, fat, and sodium but low in dietary fibers, high-quality protein, and essential fatty acids (the "Western" diet) are consumed by children and adults worldwide, although the adverse physical effects of this diet pattern on physical health, such as metabolic disorders (obesity, diabetes and hypertension) are very  well established.  Could it be possible that physically detrimental lifestyle patterns also affect human's ability to learn?

To date, little is known about the effects of lifestyle factors on the ability to learn and perform cognitive tasks. Considering the role of the brain as a highly energy-dependent organ and the locus of control of human behavior and learning, research on measurable effects on brain development, function, and maintenance is critically needed in our efforts to improve learning outcomes, especially in populations at risk for suboptimal lifestyle behavior choices.  For instance, it stands to reason that diet affects human’s ability to learn in at least two ways: (1) the physical make-up of the brain matter and (2) the energy and nutrients provided to fuel and support the brain’s processing ability.  Also, emerging evidence shows that physical activity and sedentary behavior affect learning and brain function.  Also, lack of sleep or lack of higher quality sleep may negatively affect the individual's behavior to process information and learn.

The objective of this Special Issue on “Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning” is to publish selected papers detailing specific aspects of diet, physical activity and sleep on organic or functional performance of the brain as well as people’s ability to learn and/or perform related tasks. Particularly, papers (reviews, epidemiologic/clinical/experimental studies) examining the role of lifestyle factors on learning in humans are sought.

Dr. Sibylle Kranz
Dr. Julia Blodgett
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nutrients is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Healthy Diets
  • Dietary intake
  • Child Nutrition
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Protein, Dietary Fibers
  • Cognition and Learning
  • Attention and Executive Functioning
  • Academic Performance/School Achievement
  • On-task behaviors
  • Sugars/Added sugars
  • Brain Development

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Association Between Fatty Acids Profile and Cerebral Blood Flow: An Exploratory fNIRS Study on Children with and without ADHD
Nutrients 2019, 11(10), 2414; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102414 - 10 Oct 2019
Abstract
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) biostatus has been proposed as possible attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis biomarker. The present exploratory study aimed to investigate the association between PUFAs biostatus and cerebral cortex metabolism measured by functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in a sample [...] Read more.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) biostatus has been proposed as possible attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis biomarker. The present exploratory study aimed to investigate the association between PUFAs biostatus and cerebral cortex metabolism measured by functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in a sample of children with and without ADHD. 24 children with ADHD and 22 typically developing (TD) peers, aged 8–14, were recruited. Linoleic, arachidonic, docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids levels were evaluated in whole blood. All children underwent fNIRS while performing an n-back working memory task. Between groups comparisons revealed lower levels of arachidonic acid in children with ADHD and stronger NIRS signal in TD participants, especially when completing more difficult tasks. Correlations conducted between fNIRS activation and PUFA biostatus revealed several associations between hemodynamic changes in the frontoparietal regions and fatty acids profile across participants. This result was also confirmed by the multiple hierarchical regression analyses that remarked an inverse effect of eicosapentaenoic acid levels on oxyhemoglobin values in right frontoparietal region. Such preliminary findings, if confirmed, would suggest that PUFAs could play a role in atypical neurodevelopment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Open AccessArticle
Acute Kahweol Treatment Attenuates Traumatic Brain Injury Neuroinflammation and Functional Deficits
Nutrients 2019, 11(10), 2301; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102301 - 27 Sep 2019
Abstract
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects millions worldwide with devastating long-term effects on health and cognition. Emerging data suggest that targeting the immune response may offer promising strategies to alleviate TBI outcomes; kahweol, an anti-inflammatory diterpene that remains in unfiltered coffee, has been shown [...] Read more.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects millions worldwide with devastating long-term effects on health and cognition. Emerging data suggest that targeting the immune response may offer promising strategies to alleviate TBI outcomes; kahweol, an anti-inflammatory diterpene that remains in unfiltered coffee, has been shown to be beneficial in neuronal recovery. Here, we examined whether kahweol could alleviate brain trauma-induced injury in a mouse model of TBI and its underlying mechanisms. TBI was induced by controlled cortical impact (CCI) and various doses of kahweol were intraperitoneally administered following injury. Contusion volume, brain edema, neurobehavioral deficits, and protein expression and activity were evaluated in both short-term and long-term recovery. We found that kahweol treatments significantly reduced secondary brain injury and improved neurobehavioral outcomes in TBI mice. These changes were accompanied by the attenuation of proinflammatory cytokine secretion, decreased microglia/macrophage activation, and reduction of neutrophil and leukocyte infiltration. In addition, continuous kahweol treatment further improved short-term TBI outcomes compared to single-dosage. Collectively, our data showed that kahweol protects against TBI by reducing immune responses and may serve as a potential therapeutic intervention for TBI patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
How Lifestyle Factors Affect Cognitive and Executive Function and the Ability to Learn in Children
Nutrients 2019, 11(8), 1953; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081953 - 20 Aug 2019
Abstract
In today’s research environment, children’s diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors are commonly studied in the context of health, independent of their effect on cognition and learning. Moreover, there is little overlap between the two literatures, although it is reasonable to expect [...] Read more.
In today’s research environment, children’s diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors are commonly studied in the context of health, independent of their effect on cognition and learning. Moreover, there is little overlap between the two literatures, although it is reasonable to expect that the lifestyle factors explored in the health-focused research are intertwined with cognition and learning processes. This thematic review provides an overview of knowledge connecting the selected lifestyle factors of diet, physical activity, and sleep hygiene to children’s cognition and learning. Research from studies of diet and nutrition, physical activity and fitness, sleep, and broader influences of cultural and socioeconomic factors related to health and learning, were summarized to offer examples of research that integrate lifestyle factors and cognition with learning. The literature review demonstrates that the associations and causal relationships between these factors are vastly understudied. As a result, current knowledge on predictors of optimal cognition and learning is incomplete, and likely lacks understanding of many critical facts and relationships, their interactions, and the nature of their relationships, such as there being mediating or confounding factors that could provide important knowledge to increase the efficacy of learning-focused interventions. This review provides information focused on studies in children. Although basic research in cells or animal studies are available and indicate a number of possible physiological pathways, inclusion of those data would distract from the fact that there is a significant gap in knowledge on lifestyle factors and optimal learning in children. In a climate where childcare and school feeding policies are continuously discussed, this thematic review aims to provide an impulse for discussion and a call for more holistic approaches to support child development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Intake, Brain Development and Learning)
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