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Increased Intake of Alpha-Linolenic Acid is Associated with Higher Exam Scores

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Daniel Christensen

Additional Presenters:
Jazmin Vilches (
Roughly 60% of the human brain is fat. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) Linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids are critical for building the brain's structure, synthesis of neurotransmitters, and developing the visual cortex, among other important functions.
This study investigates how EFAs intake may affect brain function, and if these effects are reflected in student exam performance. We hypothesize that increased consumption EFAs will be associated with higher test scores.
An analysis of cognitive function based on exam scores was conducted on 463 student participants attending Weber State University. Two-day diet records were collected. Grams as well as percentages of recommendation consumed based on required calories of linoleic and alpha-linolenic EFAs were calculated from the diet record using Diet and Wellness Plus software. The data analysis was completed using RStudio. Models were created using linear regression and variables were removed based on p-value using backward elimination. The best model created included the following variables: LinoleicCal% (the fraction of the total calories required provided by linoleic fatty acid), α-LinolenicCal% (the fraction of the total calories required provided by alpha-linolenic fatty acid), and the interaction between the previous two variables. Exam scores increased by 8.37 times, for each additional α-LinolenicCal% percentage increase (p = .001). For each percentage increase on both LinoleicCal% and α-LinolenicCal%, exam scores decreased by 0.39 times (p = 0.002).
Our results show that it is not only the amount but also the ratio in which these two fatty acids are consumed that influences exam score performance. This is in accordance with previous studies showing that intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are inversely related with risk of impaired memory and flexibility in middle aged adults.
University / Institution: Weber State University
Type: Poster
Format: In Person
Presentation #D27
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Health & Medicine
Faculty Mentor: Joanna Gautney