Nicolas Villain  published a paper on cognitive performance and body mass loss in Behavioural Brain Research.


Villain N, Picq JL, Aujard F & Pifferi F. 2016. Body mass loss correlates with cognitive performance in primates under accute caloric restriction conditions. Behavioural Brain Research DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.02.037

It is available at


Brain functions are known to consume high levels of energy, thus, the integrity of cognitive performance can be drastically impacted by acute caloric restriction. In this study, we tested the impact of a 40% caloric restriction on the cognitive abilities of the grey mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus).

Twenty-three male mouse lemurs were divided into two groups: 13 control animals (CTL) that were fed with 105 kJ/day and 10 calorie restricted (CR) animals that received 40% less food (63 kJ/day) than the CTL animals. The animals were fed according to their group for 19 days. Before treatment, we assessed baseline associative learning capacities, resting metabolic rates and locomotor performance of both animal groups. After treatment, we tested the same functions as well as long-term memory.

Our results showed that CR animals had lower learning performance following caloric restriction. The effects of caloric restriction on memory recall varied and depended on the metabolism of the individual animal. Body mass loss was linked to memory test performance in the CR group, and lower performance was observed in individuals losing the most weight. While CR was observed to negatively impact learning, locomotor capacities were preserved in CR animals, and there were higher resting metabolic rates in the CR group. Our data reinforce the strong link between energy allocation and brain function, and suggest that in the context of food shortage, learning capacities could be a limiting parameter in the adaptation to a changing environment.