Objective: Previously, 4 mo of a blueberry-enriched (BB) antioxidant diet prevented impaired object recognition memory in aging rats. Experiment 1 determined whether 1- and 2-mo BB diets would have a similar effect and whether the benefits would disappear promptly after terminating the diets. Experiment 2 determined whether a 1-mo BB diet could subsequently reverse existing object memory impairment in aging rats.
Methods: In experiment 1, Fischer-344 rats were maintained on an appropriate control diet or on 1 or 2 mo of the BB diet before testing object memory at 19 mo postnatally. In experiment 2, rats were tested for object recognition memory at 19 mo and again at 20 mo after 1 mo of maintenance on a 2% BB or control diet.
Results: In experiment 1, the control group performed no better than chance, whereas the 1- and 2-mo BB diet groups performed similarly and significantly better than controls. The 2-mo BB-diet group, but not the 1-mo group, maintained its performance over a subsequent month on a standard laboratory diet. In experiment 2, the 19-mo-old rats performed near chance. At 20 mo of age, the rats subsequently maintained on the BB diet significantly increased their object memory scores, whereas the control diet group exhibited a non-significant decline. The change in object memory scores differed significantly between the two diet groups.
Conclusion: These results suggest that a considerable degree of age-related object memory decline can be prevented and reversed by brief maintenance on BB diets.
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