Effects of the Ketogenic Diet on Learning and Memory
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Neuroscience, Ketogenesis, Neuroplasticity
Video Presentation 1st Place Award Winner
The ketogenic or “keto” diet could significantly change the brain’s learning process. The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat weight loss diet that has historically been used to treat seizures in people with epilepsy . Nowadays, scientists are exploring mechanisms behind its potential medical benefits. Normally, the brain uses glucose derived from carbohydrates for energy. However, under fasting and starvation conditions, the body enters a state of fat breakdown called ketosis. While in ketosis, the brain uses a fatty acid derived ketone molecule called Beta-Hydroxybutyrate (BHB, Fig. 1) as an alternative fuel source. In addition to supplying the brain’s energy demands, BHB also enhances the expression of a molecule called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) , an important modulator in a synapse strengthening process called Long-Term Potentiation (LTP). Higher levels of BHB have also been correlated with increases in cognition in memory-impaired adults . Our current objectives are to induce ketosis in mice through a ketogenic diet, and study the effects of BHB on LTP. Ultimately, we want to explore if the keto diet can be used to enhance learning and memory, and prevent the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Moore, Zachary; Kemberling, Colin; Barlow, Spencer; Saito, Erin; and Edwards, Jeffrey PhD, "Effects of the Ketogenic Diet on Learning and Memory" (2021). Library/Life Sciences Undergraduate Poster Competition 2021. 25.
Physiology and Developmental Biology
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