Dr. Thuret is a neuroscientist with a background in food science, molecular, cellular, behavioural and ageing biology. She has recently been appointed Lecturer in 2011 following on her RCUK Academic Fellow in Neural Stem Cell Research award and is the head of the Nutrition, Neurogenesis and Mental Health laboratory at King’s College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience. She graduated from the University of Heidelberg with a PhD in neuroscience studying the development of dopaminergic neurons. She then did her postdoctoral work at the Salk Institute with Prof. F.H. Gage, CA, USA, where she investigated the role of stem cells in the mammalian central nervous system.
Talk: Nutrition, Brain Plasticity and Mental Health
Research over the last 10 years has firmly established that learning and memory abilities as well as mood can be influenced by diet. Although the underlying mechanisms by which diet modulates mental health are not well understood. One of the brain structures associated with learning, memory and mood is the hippocampus. Interestingly, the hippocampus is one of the two structures in the adult brain where the formation of newborn neurons -or neurogenesis- persists. The level of neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus has been linked directly to cognition and mood: In the rodent, an increase of neurogenesis in the hippocampus is associated with improved learning/memory abilities, whereas a decrease is associated with symptoms of depression. Therefore modulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis by diet emerges as a possible mechanism by which nutrition impacts on mental health.
During this talk I will present evidence of cognition and mood being modulated by dietary parameters, which are also responsible for adult hippocampal neurogenesis regulation. This will inform a discussion on the important translational concept that diet, a modifiable lifestyle factor, holds the ability to modulate brain plasticity and function.