Dr. Ron’s Research Review – July 22, 2020

©

This week’s research review focuses on walnut oil and fear

Fear-Based Predictions

A study published in Appetite examined the effects of polyunsaturated and saturated fat (walnut oil, cream or a low-fat control) on extinction learning. KU Leuven, Belgium conducted the study.
The study examined the effects of adding walnut oil (12% ALA) to a chocolate milkshake on the acquisition, generalization, and extinction of a fear-based prediction in young adults. It compared performance between subjects. The other participants consumed a similar milkshake with either an equicaloric amount of cream (saturated fat), or with no added fat (control).
Acquisition and generalization of the fear-based prediction were similar for all groups. However, those who consumed walnut oil extinguished most rapidly and profoundly.
Acute consumption of a chocolate milkshake rich in walnut oil (relative to cream or a low-fat control) results in a faster, more profound extinction of a fear-based prediction. In terms of fear learning, this means that nutrients can contribute to the extinction of irrelevant predictions.  (Miller et al., 2018)

 

Dr. Ron

 


Articles

 

A mind cleared by walnut oil: The effects of polyunsaturated and saturated fat on extinction learning.
(Miller et al., 2018) Download
The treatment of anxiety-based psychopathology often hinges upon extinction learning. Research in nutritional neuroscience has observed that the regular consumption of perilla oil (50% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)) facilitates extinction learning in rats (Yamamoto et al., 1988). However, acute facilitation of extinction learning by oils rich in ALA has not been reported for rats or humans, though the acute consumption of rapeseed oil (10% ALA) has been observed to improve cognitive processing speed in humans (Jones, Sünram-Lea, & Wesnes, 2012). For this reason, the present laboratory work examined the effects of adding walnut oil (12% ALA) to a chocolate milkshake on the acquisition, generalization, and extinction of a fear-based prediction in young adults. It compared performance between subjects. The other participants consumed a similar milkshake with either an equicaloric amount of cream (saturated fat), or with no added fat (control). Acquisition and generalization of the fear-based prediction were similar for all groups. However, those who consumed walnut oil extinguished most rapidly and profoundly. Implications for extinction learning are discussed.

 

References

Miller, HC, et al. (2018), ‘A mind cleared by walnut oil: The effects of polyunsaturated and saturated fat on extinction learning.’, Appetite, 126 147-55. PubMed: 29634989