Nutrition has benefits for brain network organization


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Nutrition has been linked to cognitive performance, but researchers have not pinpointed what underlies the connection. 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.

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Firmer, fitter frame linked to firmer, fitter brain


Scientists have observed that more aerobically fit individuals have better memories. To investigate this phenomenon, they used magnetic resonance elastography (MRE), which measures the firmness and elasticity of organs, and found that fit individuals had a firmer, more elastic hippocampus—a region of the brain associated with memory. The method could provide early diagnosis and potential interventions in the initial stages of neurodegenerative disease.

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Research at 150 Symposium on Brain Plasticity


Six teams have been awarded David Dodds Henry Lectureship Funds in support of the culminating research event of the University of Illinois’ Sesquicentennial Celebration. The symposia will highlight Illinois strengths in interdisciplinary research, exploring issues as diverse as human health, race and justice, the arts and the humanities, agriculture and the environment, and the legacy of the land-grant institution.

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Cognitive cross-training enhances learning


Just as athletes cross-train to improve physical skills, those wanting to enhance cognitive skills can benefit from multiple ways of exercising the brain, according to a comprehensive new study from University of Illinois researchers.

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Brain tissue structure could explain link between fitness and memory

Postdoctoral researcher Hillary Schwarb was the first author of the study.

Professor Aron Barbey led a team that found that the structural integrity of the hippocampus, a region in the brain, could mediate the relationship between fitness and memory.

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Eating Leafy Greens Is Good For Your Brain

Researchers have identified an important link between the consumption of lutein-rich foods and brain health in older adults.

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Barbey and Posner co-edit Special Issue on “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Human Intelligence”


Recent innovations in the psychological and brain sciences have advanced our understanding of  human intelligence. Rather than engaging a single brain structure or operating at a fixed level of performance throughout adulthood, emerging evidence indicates that intelligence is mediated by a distributed neural system whose functions can be significantly enhanced by specific types of intervention. Early discoveries in the neurosciences revealed that experience can modify brain structure long after brain development is complete, but we are only now beginning to establish methods to enhance the function of specific brain systems and to optimize core facets of intellectual ability.

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Study links nutrition to brain health and cognitive aging

Aron Barbey - professor of psychology; Marta Zamroziewicz, graduate student; and Chris Zwilling, postdoc

Aron Barbey – professor of psychology; Marta Zamroziewicz, graduate student; and Chris Zwilling, postdoc

A new study of older adults finds an association between higher blood levels of phosphatidylcholine, a source of the dietary nutrient choline, and greater cognitive flexibility, the ability to regulate attention to manage competing tasks. The study also identified a brain structure within the prefrontal cortex, a region at the front of the brain, that appears to play a role in this association.

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