I posted a few days ago about the different effects of flaxseed oil (high in omega-3) and olive oil (low in omega-3) on my balance. There was a big difference. If omega-3 affects one measure of brain function (balance), it should affect many other measures of brain function. The whole brain is made of the same stuff (neurons, etc.).
Which brain measures are most sensitive to omega-3? The more processing/time the better, I assumed; so I looked for tasks that, like balance, involve continuous processing for most of the test period. This led me to try a paper-and-pencil version of Saul Sternberg’s memory-scanning task. (Sternberg’s use of this procedure is described here.) On each trial I memorized a list of three digits (e.g., 2, 3, 7); then as fast as possible marked each of 100 digits (20 digits/row in 5 rows) according to whether they were in the list or not. I made a line under the digit if it was in the list, through the digit if it was not. I did five trials per day.
Here is an example of the test materials and my marks:
The other side of the page had two more sets of digits.
Here are the results from the same flaxseed/olive oil experiment I discussed a few days ago:
There was a huge difference between the flaxseed oil and olive oil condition: t > 7.
Curiously the time course is different from the balance results. In the case of balance, when I switched from flaxseed to olive oil my balance slowly got worse. Nothing like that is apparent here. This might reflect a different mechanism or it might be due to the vast difference in how much practice I had had with each task. When this experiment began, I had had far more practice with the balance task than with the memory-scanning task.