Rapid and reversible impairment of episodic memory by a high-fat diet in mice

Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 10;8(1):11976. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-30265-4.


Alzheimer's disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality with no cure and only limited treatment available. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are positively associated with the development of premature cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease, linking diet with these conditions. Here we demonstrate that in mice episodic memory, together with spatial and contextual associative memory, is compromised after only one day of high-fat diet. However, object memory remains intact. This shows not only a more rapid effect than previously reported but also that more complex memories are at higher risk of being compromised by a high-fat diet. In addition, we show that these memory deficits are rapidly reversed by switching mice from a high-fat diet back to a low-fat diet. These findings have important implications for the contribution of nutrition to the development of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Body Weight
  • Cognitive Dysfunction
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Mice
  • Obesity / psychology


  • Glucose