Influence of nutritional tyrosine on cognition and functional connectivity in healthy old humans

Neuroimage. 2019 Jun:193:139-145. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.03.005. Epub 2019 Mar 7.


Tyrosine is precursor for monoamine neurotransmitters such as dopamine (DA), which is one of the key neurotransmitters in the frontostriatal network and of crucial relevance for mental disorders. Recent research reported that high dose tyrosine application resulted in increased brain DA synthesis, which is consistent with the observation of positive associations between daily tyrosine intake and cognitive test performance. In the present study, we investigated the associations between working memory (WM) dependent tasks and self-reported nutritional tyrosine intake within a large group of healthy elderly humans (286 subjects) by additionally including brain functional data. We observed a negative correlation between tyrosine intake and resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) between the striatum (putamen) and the prefrontal cortex. That is to say, we found higher rsFC in individuals consuming less tyrosine per day. At the same time, this increasedrsFC or hyperconnectivity was associated with lower WM performance. These findings suggest that lower or insufficient supply of tyrosine might result in dysfunctional connectivity between striatal and frontal regions leading to lower WM capacity in healthy elderly humans.

Keywords: Functional connectivity; Resting state; Tyrosine; Working memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain*
  • Cognition
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Healthy Aging*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neural Pathways
  • Tyrosine*


  • Tyrosine