The polyphenolics in fruits and vegetables, when fed to rats from 19-21 months of age, have been shown to retard and even reverse age-related decrements in motor and cognitive performance. These effects may be the result of the polyphenols increasing antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory levels, or by direct effects on signaling, in the brain. Increased dietary intake of berry fruit, in particular, has a positive and profound impact on human health, performance, and disease. Thus, the present study examined a 2% blackberry-supplemented diet for its effectiveness in reversing age-related deficits in behavioral and neuronal function when fed to aged (19-month-old) Fischer 344 rats for 8 weeks. The results showed that the blackberry diet improved motor performance on three tasks which rely on balance and co-ordination: the accelerating rotarod, wire suspension, and the small plank walk. Results for the Morris water maze showed that the blackberry-fed rats had significantly greater working, or short-term, memory performance than the control rats. These data support our previous investigations in which we have seen improved motor and cognitive performance in aged rats after supplementation with other berry fruits.
Shukitt-Hale B, Cheng V, Joseph JA. Effects of blackberries on motor and cognitive function in aged rats. Nutr Neurosci. 2009 June USDA-ARS, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.