Obesity can drain your brain power — and a study on mice might explain how.
In a paper published in the Journal of Neuroscience, Princeton University researchers found in the brains of obese mice, scavenger immune cells destroyed nerve cell connections that are important for learning and memory, Science News reported.
In their study, the researchers reported, after 12 weeks of a high-fat diet, mice weighed almost 40 percent more than mice fed standard food and had a harder time escaping mazes and remembering an object's location compared with normal-weight mice, Science News reported.
These rogue cells are not "bad" on their own, BGR.com reported, but an increase in their numbers is thought to cause damage to the stalks on nerve cells — called dendritic spines — that receive messages and are vital for the brain to process information.
And less active dendritic spines might inhibit the ability of the obese mice to process information as rapidly as their leaner kin.
Though it is not clear if the same is true in humans, the functions of the brain that are of concern in the obese mouse study are similar between rodents and many other animals — including humans, BGR.com reported.
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