Ridge Point High School
Neurodegenerative diseases (a group of disorders characterized by the progressive loss of brain function) such as Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease affect millions of people worldwide. Locomotive defects are one prominent symptom of neurodegenerative diseases and are often correlated with defects in the brain. However, most of these neurodegenerative diseases are still without treatments. Lifestyle factors, such as diet, are shown to be associated with neurodegenerative diseases. The intake of different types of dietary fats have been recently proven to have a direct impact on brain function. However, the link between different types of dietary oils and brain function remains unknown. To explore this, I compared the effects of 4 different culinary oils (sesame oil, virgin coconut oil, canola oil, and soybean oil) on the brain function in the model organism Drosophila Melanogaster (fruit fly). The fruit flies were separated into 5 groups and fed with either the control diet (moisture, ash, protein, fat, other), or with the respective oil containing diet (control diet + 10% of the oil). After 10 days, I recorded the climbing ability of the flies using the climbing assay, a commonly used method to see how many flies climb past a 5cm mark, during a specific time period (30 seconds in this experiment). Of the control-diet fed flies, 53% of them climbed past the 5cm mark. The flies exposed to sesame oil- and virgin coconut oil-diet showed increased climbing ability with 85% and 80% of flies, in each respective group, climbing past the 5cm mark. Flies fed with canola oil and soybean oil showed decreased climbing performance, with 22% and 45% of flies, in each respective group, climbing past the 5cm mark. This study suggests that consumption of sesame oil and virgin coconut oil may positively impact locomotion, either directly or indirectly, while canola oil and soybean oil may negatively impact locomotion. These impacts may or may not be connected to brain function, but may suggest that long-term oil consumption may have an effect on the brain.