Behavior, Diet Therapies Fight Cognitive Decay

Combination curbed beagles' age-related decline in learning ability

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THURSDAY, Jan. 20, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- A combination of diet and behavior therapies helps curb the progressive age-related decline in learning ability in beagles, says a University of Toronto-led study in the January issue of the Neurobiology of Aging.

"We were really surprised just how clear-cut the benefits is of using a combined therapy," lead investigator Bill Milgram, a psychology professor who specializes in aging research, said in a prepared statement.

He and his team studied the impact that four combinations of behavioral enrichment and supplementation of diet with antioxidants had on the learning ability of beagles over a period of two years.

The first group of beagles received a regular diet and regular experience, the second group received a regular diet and enriched experience, the third group received an enriched diet and regular experience, and the fourth group received an enriched diet and enriched experience.

The study found that providing enriched diet and enriched experience offered a statistically significant benefit.

"Since humans and dogs have many biological and behavioral parallels, I predict similar results would be attained in people," Milgram said.

More information

The U.S. Administration on Aging has information about aging and mental health.

SOURCE: University of Toronto, news release, Jan. 17, 2005

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