Dietary supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to induce cognitive advantages in several animal models. These nutritional effects are especially prominent during early brain development, but the precise time period at which supplementation is most critical is not well understood. Therefore, this study examined the effects of dietary omega-3 supplementation in 48 Sprague Dawley rats at two developmental periods (perinatal and postnatal) on spatial learning and memory tasks (Morris water maze and water radial arm maze) in adulthood. It was expected that both periods of supplementation would be advantageous for learning and memory but that perinatal supplementation would be more beneficial than postnatal supplementation due to the rapid brain development which occurs during this period. There was no clear effect of perinatal supplementation, but postnatal supplementation marginally improved performance in the Morris water maze. However, the length of supplementation periods and total intake of dietary fats should be considered for future research. In this study, the period of supplementation differed in prenatal and postnatal conditions, and it may be meaningful that the postnatally supplemented animals received omega-3 supplements for a longer time than the perinatally supplemented animals did. Furthermore, animals in all groups received adequate dietary supplies of omega-3 fatty acids and were not nutritionally deprived, which potentially limits the amount of difference that can be observed between groups.


Stavnezer, Amy Jo




Cognitive Neuroscience | Other Nutrition


omega-3. fatty acids, learning and memory

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2015 Sharla D. Dean