Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Study : Omega 3 and Sensory Overload

According to research published this month by the American Psychological Association, Omega 3 fatty acids may help people avoid sensory overload.

In the researchers are correct, Omega 3 could help with sensorimotor gating, which is a "behavioural trait in humans and animals that reflects the ability to filter out extraneous stimuli and to process information that comes in rapid succession."

Or to put it another way, this is the process that your brain uses to filter out extra sensory input so that you can you process information quickly and don't become overwhelmed by too much sensory input at once.

The title of this study is "Deficit in prepulse inhibition in mice caused by dietary n-3 fatty acid deficiency", which, if you ask me, is a mouthful.  The study is not open access, but there is a good write up of it over at Science Direct.

The details of this study are somewhat over my head, but in general terms the researchers divided a group of  pregnant mice into several groups and fed them different diets.  Some of the diets were deficient in omega 3 fatty acids while others had a diet enriched with types of omega 3.  The mice's offspring were kept on the same diet after they were weaned and they their auditory sensorimotor gating was measured.  The results showed that the mice who had a a diet with added omega 3 fatty accids did substantially better in sensorimotor gating than those who were on a diet low or deficient in Omega 3.

I am glossing over a lot of the details, but the general idea is that having enough Omega 3 in your diet might  help a person process sensory information better.

So, what does this have to do with autism?  If you have been around people with autism or have spent some time reading about it, you should be aware that autism and sensory issues seem to go together.  There is also evidence that children and adults with autism have problems with sensorimotor gating.

Prior research has shown that omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial and may help with irritability and speech problems and now the current study suggests that omega 3 could help with sensory issues.

I think that bottom line is that it would be a good idea to make sure that children with autism get enough omega 3 in their diet.

1 comment:

  1. It hasn't been tried on mice yet, but Sound Therapy can at times reduce sensory overload.

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