Effect of dietary alpha linolenic acid deficiency on habituation.

January 1, 1996 Human Health and Nutrition Data 0 Comments

Effect of dietary alpha linolenic acid deficiency on habituation.

Year: 1996
Authors: H Frances, C Monier, M Clement, A Lecorsier, M Debray, J-M Bourre.
Publication Name: Life Sci.
Publication Details: Volume 58; Number 21; 1805.


The concentration of lipids in the brain is second only to adipose tissue and plays an important role in development. Previous studies have indicated that a diet enriched in ALA increased the learning ability of mice and rats. The objective of the present study was to assess the effect of a diet deficient in n-3 PUFAs or containing ALA from canola oil on learning, in particular, habituation. Three weeks before mating, two groups of mice were fed similar diets containing peanut oil low in ALA or peanut plus canola oil. Pups, fed the same diet as their dams, aged 45 to 62 days were used for brain lipid analysis and for behavioral experiments. The behavior of mice was compared using four models: exploration recorded in a photocell actimeter, activity in an open-field, duration of immobility in the forced swimming test and number of escape attempts from a small closed space. Habituation was measured by testing the mice in the same situation after some time had elapsed since the first test. In mice fed the ALA deficient diet, a significant reduction in brain DHA was noted in combination with an increase in n-6 long chain PUFAs. The various assessments indicated that exploration in the photocell actimeter was significantly reduced between day 1 and 4 in ALA fed mice, but, not in ALA deficient mice. The number of square crossings in the open-field was significantly reduced on the second test in the ALA deficient mice. Habituation, the increase in duration of immobility, was significantly greater (255%) in ALA fed mice than in ALA deficient mice (163%). This result suggested that the ALA fed animals learned more quickly when confronted with a forced swimming test. In the escape attempt experiment, habituation was significantly greater in ALA fed mice in comparison to ALA deficient mice. The authors concluded that their results suggest that a simple form of learning, habituation, occurs more slowly in mice fed a diet deficient in ALA. Behavioral changes appear to result from modified brain FA levels, in particular, a reduction of DHA and other n-3 PUFAs, which affect CNS function. The research indicates the importance of ALA for effective brain function.

Back to Databases

Affiliated Organizations

Flax Focus Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with important flax news and announcements with our FLAX FOCUS newsletter.