Friday, 8 March 2013

Colloquium Talk: Prof. Peter Howe, on Cognition, Health and Nutrition

The School of Psychology is proudly hosting a talk by Prof. Peter Howe
University of Newcastle, and University of South Australia

Title: Vasoactive Nutrients and Brain Function
Date: Thursday 14th March 2013, 12-1pm in Keats Reading Room (AVLG17) (video streaming to AV3 in the Ourimbah Library)

If you would like to meet with Dr. Howe, please contact A/Prof Frini Karayanidis (

Abstract: Increasing evidence links cardiovascular disease with cognitive decline and depression and it appears that endothelial dysfunction may be a primary pathogenic link. Flow mediated dilatation, a surrogate measure of endothelial function which is impaired in obesity and metabolic syndrome, is inversely related to cognitive performance. Certain nutrients can improve flow mediated dilatation following ingestion. We have observed sustained improvements with regular consumption of marine omega-3 fatty acids, cocoa flavanols, isoflavones and resveratrol and postulate that these vasoactive nutrients may deliver not only cardiovascular but also mental health benefits. We have shown improvements in mood and/or cognition following chronic supplementation with soy isoflavones and omega-3 and we are now using transcranial Doppler ultrasound to explore the link between cognitive effects of nutrients and endothelial function in cerebral arteries. This new approach is enabling us to identify nutrients with the potential to sustain mental health in an ageing population and to optimize both mood and cognitive performance under demanding conditions, such as extreme duress or prolonged fatigue.

Bio: Peter is Professor of Nutrition Research at both the University of Newcastle and University of South Australia and heads the newly formed cross-institutional Clinical Nutrition Research Centre. An authority on health benefits of omega-3 and other bioactive nutrients, Peter has built partnerships with the food industry to develop functional foods and has contributed to food regulatory policy in Australia. He established the Smart Foods Centre at Wollongong and the Nutritional Physiology Research Centre in Adelaide. He is a Fellow of the Nutrition Society of Australia and Editor-in-Chief of Nutrients.