Using Our Basic Knowledge To Study Applied Issues
Interdisciplinary and applied research
Dr. Kannass is part of some interdisciplinary research teams that use our basic understanding of attention to study applied issues, such as how does nutrition affect development. For example, in one study we have used our basic understanding of learning and attention to investigate how maternal prenatal nutrition (specifically, omega-3 fatty acids) affects the development of infant attention (Colombo, Kannass, Shaddy, Kundurthi, Maikranz, Anderson, Blaga, & Carlson, 2004). The presence of omega-3 fatty acids in the mothers was recorded when babies were born. We then examined how babies of mothers with higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids differed from babies of mothers with lower amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. In general, babies of mothers with higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids learned more quickly at 4 and 6 months of age, and they had longer attention spans and were less distractible at 12 and 18 months of age. More research is needed to better understand how nutrition affects developmental outcome.