Doctors appear to have confirmed that fish gives you brains! And not only does eating oily fish, such as Scottish salmon, help brains develop research suggests it also helps children to use them better.

In an University of Oxford study, some children given Omega-3s and Omega-6s showed improvements in learning and concentration.

Omega-3s are termed essential fatty acids because they are critical for good health. However, the body cannot make them on its own. For this reason, Omega-3s must be obtained from food, particularly oily fish such as Scottish salmon.

More and more manufacturers are adding Omega-3 to everyday products to help people boost intake of this vital health-enhancing essential fatty acid. These foods can be a great way of topping up your intake of Omega-3. However, oil-rich fish such as salmon remains one of the richest sources of Omega-3 by far.

In the 2004 study at 12 primary schools across County Durham, more than 100 children aged between six and 12 were given dietary supplements containing these essential fatty acids.

All of the children selected showed evidence of learning difficulties and were chosen on the basis of a diagnosis of dyspraxia, many with accompanying conditions such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and dyslexia.

The trial was due to last six months but after just three months "significant improvements" in behaviour, reading and spelling were reported.

Dr Madeleine Portwood, Senior Educational Psychologist at Durham County Council commented: "In very broad terms we saw that up to 40 per cent of children on the trial showed dramatic improvements. In some individual cases, we saw reading age gains of between 18 months and four years, and attention gains of as much as 400 per cent.

Headteacher Andrew Westerman said:

"We're pleased to say that it does seem to be having quite a significant effect on a number of children ... we're finding that the handwriting is more regular, it's kept on the line, the letters are evenly spaced and formed, and you can imagine it's flowing much more easily for them.

"Also, the reading scores are going up quite significantly. The average increase is between two and three years in three months. In one case we have seen an increase of four years. This is simply stunning.

"We have seem improvements in attentiveness, ability to take part in lessons, self-esteem and so on. I can't believe how involved they are in lessons."

Professor Robert Winston, Imperial College London and BBC presenter, has described some of the Durham results as "dramatic". In his TV series 'Child of our Time', Professor Winston reported how Omega-3 fatty acids had improved the behavioural problems of two children.

The broadcast prompted the Durham study to look at a pre-school trial, and indications of this research suggested that some benefits were observed in other young children too.