“Intelligence and Creativity Evolved as Adaptations to Food Scarcity: Implications for Brain Health”

Thursday, April 18, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Carver Biomedical Research Building , 1289
285 Newton Road, Iowa City, IA 52246
Parkin Lecture Aging Mind & Brain Initiative Mark Mattson, PhDSenior InvestigatorNational Institute on Aging (NIH) Evidence from the fields of neuroscience, evolutionary biology and anthropology suggest that even the most advanced  problem-solving capabilities of the human brain evolved as adaptations to overcome food scarcity.  Studies of rodents, birds and primates reveal how neuronal networks involved in learning and memory, spatial navigation, decision-making and sociality enable efficient acquisition of food.  Animal studies show that food deprivation enhances cognition, neuroplasticity, and stress resistance by complex and integrated cellular and molecular mechanisms.  These conserved cognition-enhancing pathways are disengaged in overindulgent individuals and can be stimulated by intermittent fasting and exercise, suggesting novel approaches for optimizing cognition in modern-day humans.