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Symposium on Nutrition and Cognition: Towards Research and Application for Different Life Stages


Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;21(1):104-124

A Symposium on Nutrition and Cognition: Towards Research and Application for Different Life Stages was held on October 2010 in Malaysia. The influence of diet and nutrition on the cognitive development of the child and on cognitive decline in later life was reviewed. Central to the study of such topics is the assessment of cognitive functioning. Cognitive functioning falls into six main areas: executive functioning, memory, attention, perception, psychomotor and language skills, although each domain can be further subdivided. As it is in the nature of human functioning that the performance on any cognitive test can reflect aspects of many of these domains, ideally a battery of tests should be used to establish the basis of any difference in performance. In intervention studies, frequently there has been a failure to demonstrate a beneficial influence of changes in diet. A possible reason is that studies have failed to acknowledge the time scale and critical ages over which diet has an impact. Diet may have a slow and progressive influence making it difficult for short-term studies to show an improvement. In addition, as many factors influence human behaviour, dietary interventions should only be one part of a coordinated approach; the effect of diet will depend on the social and psychological context in which an individual lives. Placing diet into a broader social and psychological context greatly increases the chance of generating significant findings. This report highlights and reviews presentations and discussions at the symposium.

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