Journal article

Prebiotics, probiotics, fermented foods and cognitive outcomes: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Wolfgang Marx, Andrew Scholey, Joseph Firth, Nathan M D'Cunha, Melissa Lane, Meghan Hockey, Melanie M Ashton, John F Cryan, Adrienne O'Neil, Nenad Naumovski, Michael Berk, Olivia M Dean, Felice Jacka



This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate randomized controlled trials that investigated the use of probiotic, prebiotic, and fermented food interventions for cognitive performance. In total, 22 studies (n = 1551) were included that investigated probiotics (11 studies, n = 724), prebiotics (5 studies, n = 355), and fermented foods (6 studies, n = 472). Despite several individual studies (14 of 22) reporting significant improvements in specific cognitive domains, results of the pooled meta-analysis found no significant effect for any intervention for global cognition (Probiotics: g = 0.115, 95 %CI -0.041, 0.270, p = 0.148; Prebiotics: g = 0.077, 95 %CI -0.091, 0.246, p = 0.36..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by NHMRC

Awarded by University of Manchester

Awarded by UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship

Awarded by Heart Foundation, Australia

Funding Acknowledgements

WM is supported by Deakin University postdoctoral fellowship. MH is supported by an Australian Rotary Health and Deakin University postgraduate scholarship. NMD is supported by a Dementia Australia Research Foundation PhD scholarship. AS has received research funding from: Abbott Nutrition, Australian Research Council, Arla Foods, Australian Wine Research Institute, Bayer, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Cognis, Cyvex, DuPont, European Commission Framework 5 Research and Innovation initiative, Fonterra, GlaxoSmithKline, Ginsana, Kemin Foods, Martek, Masterfoods, National Health and Medical Research Council, Naturex, Nestle, Neurobrands, Nutricia-Danone, Red Bull, Sanofi, Verdure Sciences, Wrigley Science Institute and received speaker fees/honoraria from Bayer, Blackmores, Danone, GlaxoSmithKline, Naturex, Nestle, Novartis, Pfizer, Red Bull, Sanofi, Sen-Jam Pharmaceuticals, Swisse, Unilever, Wrigley. MB is supported by a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship (1059660 and APP1156072). MMA has received grant/research support from Deakin University, Australasian Society for Bipolar Depressive Disorders, Lundbeck, Australian Rotary Health, Ian Parker Bipolar Research Fund and Cooperative Research Centre for Mental Health and PDG Geoff and Betty Betts Award from Rotary Club of Geelong. JF is currently supported by a University of Manchester Presidential Fellowship (P123958) and a UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship (MR/T021780/1) and has received support from a NICM-Blackmores Institute Fellowship. AO is supported by a Future Leader Fellowship (#101160) from the Heart Foundation, Australia. ML is funded by a Deakin University PhD Scholarship. FNJ has received Grant/Research support from the Brain and Behaviour Research Institute, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australian Rotary Health, the Geelong Medical Research Foundation, the Ian Potter Foundation, Eli Lilly, Meat and Livestock Australia, Woolworths Limited, Fernwood Gyms, The Wilson Foundation, GMHBA and The University of Melbourne and has received speakers honoraria from Sanofi-Synthelabo, Janssen Cilag, Servier, Pfizer, Health Ed, Network Nutrition, Angelini Farmaceutica, Eli Lilly and Metagenics. She is supported by an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (2) (#1108125). Felice Jacka has written two books for commercial publication and has a personal belief that good diet quality is important for mental and brain health. NN and NMD have received research support from the Capitol Chilled Foods Australia, and the University of Canberra.