Lutein and zeaxanthin are plant pigments known to preferentially accumulate in neural tissue. Macular Pigment Optical Density (MPOD), a non-invasive measure of retinal carotenoids and surrogate measure of brain carotenoid concentration, has been associated with disease prevention and cognitive health. Superior MPOD status in later adulthood has been shown to provide neuroprotective effects on cognition. Given that childhood signifies a critical period for carotenoid accumulation in brain, it is likely that the beneficial impact would be evident during development, though this relationship has not been directly investigated. The present study investigated the relationship between MPOD and the behavioral and neuroelectric indices elicited during a cognitive control task in preadolescent children. 49 participants completed a modified flanker task while event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded to assess the P3 component of the ERP waveform. MPOD was associated with both behavioral performance and P3 amplitude such that children with higher MPOD had more accurate performance and lower P3 amplitudes. These relationships were more pronounced for trials requiring greater amounts of cognitive control. These results indicate that children with higher MPOD may respond to cognitive tasks more efficiently, maintaining high performance while displaying neural indices indicative of lower cognitive load. These findings provide novel support for the neuroprotective influence of retinal carotenoids during preadolescence.
- Event-related potentials
- Executive control
- Macular pigment optical density
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)