Lutein & Zeaxanthin (2016): Neurocognitive Functioning

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2016

Researchers have known for some time that the antioxidant carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in vision health but evidence is accumulating that they also support cognitive functioning of the brain.

Scientists investigated the role of these important carotenoids in neurocognitive functioning - the capacity of the neurological system of the brain to support interaction with the world.

The research was accomplished making use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). fMRI used MRI technology to measure changes in blood flow in the brain in order to evaluate brain activity. In the brain the circulation of blood and technology that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow. This is possible because when difference parts of the brain become active there is increased blood flow to that part of the brain.

In the study about 40 older patient who were living in retirement/rest homes were asked to memorize and remember pairs of words that were not related to each other. The levels of lutein and zeaxanthin were measured in both the retinal pigment and in the blood plasma.

The researchers found that the levels of the carotenoids were significantly associated with the ability of the brain's neural network to communicate - which in turn was dependent upon blood-oxygen flow. The net result was a markedly increased capacity to accomplish the memorize/remember task.

The scientists concluded that lutein and zeaxanthin support the brain's cognitive functioning capacity through supporting the efficiency of neural networks in the brain.

Researchers: C.A. Lindbergh, et al.
Published: Relationship of Lutein and Zeaxanthin Levels to Neurocognitive Functioning: An fMRI Study of Older Adults, Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, October, 2016.