Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

  • Nikki ClaussEmail author
  • Ashley Rankin
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_743-1



Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the major polyunsaturated fatty acids and a metabolite of the omega-3 family fatty acids. DHA is the most prevalent polyunsaturated fatty acid in the central nervous system, located in the membrane phospholipids of the mammalian brain, particularly in the phosphatidylethanolamine portion of cell membranes, and retinal cells. DHA accounts for 40% of the membrane phospholipid fatty acid in the brain and is found at rates of more than 30% in the whole retina and up to 60% in the discs of the rod photoreceptor cells. DHA is a very long-chain fatty acid, made up of a 22-carbon backbone and six double bonds. The large side chain and a high degree of unsaturation are properties that appear to grant properties to cell membrane phospholipids that are unique in function and structure, particularly to those in the retina and neuronal synapses in the brain.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Jennifer Byrd-Craven
    • 1
  1. 1.Oklahoma State UniversityStillwaterUSA