Antioxidant-rich diets improve cerebellar physiology and motor learning in aged rats

Brain Res. 2000 Jun 2;866(1-2):211-7. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(00)02280-0.


The free radical theory of aging predicts that reactive oxygen species are involved in the decline in function associated with aging. The present paper reports that diets supplemented with either spinach, strawberries or blueberries, nutritional sources of antioxidants, reverse age-induced declines in beta-adrenergic receptor function in cerebellar Purkinje neurons measured using electrophysiological techniques. In addition the spinach diet improved learning on a runway motor task, previously shown to be modulated by cerebellar norepinephrine. Motor learning is important for adaptation to changes in the environment and is thus critical for rehabilitation following stroke, spinal cord injury, and the onset of some neurodegenerative diseases. These data are the first to indicate that age-related deficits in motor learning and memory can be reversed with nutritional interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Cerebellar Cortex / metabolism*
  • Diet*
  • Free Radicals / adverse effects
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Purkinje Cells / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / metabolism
  • Spinacia oleracea / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radicals
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Norepinephrine