Breakfast staple types affect brain gray matter volume and cognitive function in healthy children

PLoS One. 2010 Dec 8;5(12):e15213. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015213.


Childhood diet is important for brain development. Furthermore, the quality of breakfast is thought to affect the cognitive functioning of well-nourished children. To analyze the relationship among breakfast staple type, gray matter volume, and intelligence quotient (IQ) in 290 healthy children, we used magnetic resonance images and applied voxel-based morphometry. We divided subjects into rice, bread, and both groups according to their breakfast staple. We showed that the rice group had a significantly larger gray matter ratio (gray matter volume percentage divided by intracranial volume) and significantly larger regional gray matter volumes of several regions, including the left superior temporal gyrus. The bread group had significantly larger regional gray and white matter volumes of several regions, including the right frontoparietal region. The perceptual organization index (POI; IQ subcomponent) of the rice group was significantly higher than that of the bread group. All analyses were adjusted for age, gender, intracranial volume, socioeconomic status, average weekly frequency of having breakfast, and number of side dishes eaten for breakfast. Although several factors may have affected the results, one possible mechanism underlying the difference between the bread and the rice groups may be the difference in the glycemic index (GI) of these two substances; foods with a low GI are associated with less blood-glucose fluctuation than are those with a high GI. Our study suggests that breakfast staple type affects brain gray and white matter volumes and cognitive function in healthy children; therefore, a diet of optimal nutrition is important for brain maturation during childhood and adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Bread
  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Sciences*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Diet*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / cytology
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Japan
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Oryza


  • Blood Glucose