Sugar is not good for a baby’s brain development. This shows New research From the University of Georgia, in partnership with the University of Southern California.
In this study, scientists fed adolescent mice with an 11% sugar solution daily in addition to their regular food, similar to sweetened beverages available in the market.
Next, the mice were asked to perform a hippocampal-based memory task. Mice had to remember the context in which they had previously seen something known.
“We found that mice that ate sugar in their early life had a reduced ability to recognize something new in a particular context.” Emily Noble, one of the researchers, said that mice that were not fed sugar were able to do the job well.
The hippocampus is the part of the brain involved in storing and retrieving information from the brain. This part of the brain is still developing during adolescence.
The mice fed the sugar were able to perform a second memory task, which did not involve the hippocampus. Noble: “Sugar consumption early in life appears to selectively negatively affect learning and memory development associated with the hippocampus.”
Decreased memory appears to be related to the intestinal flora: increased sugar consumption increased the level of some intestinal bacteria. To see if this increase in this type of gut bacteria actually had a negative effect on memory, the researchers increased the number of gut bacteria in the intestinal flora of the mice that had never consumed sugar, and these mice later also showed poor memory. However, this memory impairment was found to apply to both hippocampal-related and non-hippocampal tasks. “The bacteria themselves cause cognitive impairment,” Noble said.
She and her colleagues note the importance of further research into how gut microbiota affects brain development, so that it can develop in a healthy way.