In Illinois, a new study by University of Illinois researchers found that monounsaturated fatty acids – a class of nutrients found in olive oils, nuts and avocados – are linked to general intelligence, and that this relationship is driven by the correlation between MUFAs and the organization of the brain’s attention network.
The researchers found that general intelligence was associated with the brain’s dorsal attention network, which plays a central role in attention-demanding tasks and everyday problem solving. The researchers found that general intelligence was associated with how efficiently the dorsal attention network is functionally organized using a measure called small-world propensity, which describes how well the neural network is connected within locally clustered regions as well as across globally integrated systems.
The subjects with higher levels of MUFAs in their blood had greater small-world propensity in their dorsal attention network. The research findings suggest a pathway by which MUFAs affect cognition.