The 114th Abbott Nutrition Research Conference
Carol L. Cheatham, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Nutrition Research Institute, USAHuman brain development begins at conception. However, the influence of nutrition on brain development begins before conception and continues for many years. Dr. Cheatham reviews the most important nutrients for brain development and discusses their cognitive effects. She outlines the rationale for studying the effects of nutrition on two specific cognitive abilities—memory and speed of processing. Dr. Cheatham argues that the importance of nutrition to cognition in general cannot be overstated because memory is central to learning, and speed of processing underlies all cognitive abilities. She also illustrates behavioral and electrophysiological methods of measuring the effects of nutrition on infant memory and speed of processing and states that nutrition researchers should work with developmental cognitive neuroscientists to use these methodologies to determine the effects of nutrition on brain development. Proper nutrition for fetuses, infants, and children can help ensure that children have a chance to achieve their cognitive potential.