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Symposium Year: 2013
Student(s): Emily Creegan, Ashley Harold, Gillian Hasslinger, Eric Hoffmaster, Stephanie Yates, Asghar Zaidi, Syed Masooma Zaidi
Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Karen Keller, Dr. Erica Kennedy
Natural coconut oil is composed of mostly saturated fatty acids (>90%) but is nevertheless begin marketed for consumption in a variety of ways. Recent anecdotal evidence suggests that it may help deter memory loss and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease but scientific research in this area is inconclusive. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effects of coconut oil on learning and memory in 12 laboratory rats tested on a classic rat maze. For 28 days, 6 of the animals were fed regular rat chow and the remaining 6 were fed regular chow supplemental with 10% coconut oil. Rats were then tested in the maze by timing them from start to finish and recording the number of errors, or wrong turns. Data were analyzed and results indicated that there was no significant effect of diet on the amount of time to run the maze or the number of errors, but there was a significant difference of time for all animals. In short, the rats learned the maze, but the diet was not a factor. Therefore, our results indicated no beneficial or detrimental effects of coconut oil supplementation to learning or memory function in laboratory rats.
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