Fatty acids and the hippocampus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the impact of fatty acids on the hippocampus, exploring both the adverse effects of saturated fatty acid (SFA) consumption and the possible neuroprotective effects of omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid consumption. Elevated consumption of SFAs results in adverse changes to the hippocampus, and to memory performance. In contrast, increased consumption of n-3 fatty acids is neuroprotective, and may even remediate some of the adverse effects of SFA. The chapter is arranged into analysis of the animal literature, followed by the human literature. The animal literature indicates that elevated consumption of SFA causes hippocampal impairments, and that these occur via several pathways. The animal data also indicated that some of the adverse effects of SFA consumption can be reversed by consuming n-3 fatty acids. Human studies have generally focused on dietary epidemiological evidence which is supportive; however, treatment and prevention studies have not as yet produced positive outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOmega fatty acids in brain and neurological health
EditorsRonald Ross Watson, Victor R. Preedy
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780128152386, 9780128152393
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Previously published as 'Fatty Acids and the Hippocampus' by Heather Francis and Dick Stevenson, p. 429-445 in 'Omega-3 fatty acids in Brain and neurological health' (2014) / edited by Ronald Ross Watson, Fabien De Meester. Amsterdam; Academic Press. ISBN: 9780124105270


  • hippocampus
  • memory
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • saturated fatty acids

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    Francis, H. M., & Stevenson, R. J. (2019). Fatty acids and the hippocampus. In R. R. Watson, & V. R. Preedy (Eds.), Omega fatty acids in brain and neurological health (pp. 117-129). London: Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-815238-6.00008-0