Consumers often cite cognitive improvements as reasons for making dietary changes or using dietary supplements, a motivation that if leveraged could greatly enhance public health. However, rarely is it considered whether standardized cognitive tests that are used in nutrition research are aligned to outcomes of interest to the consumer. This knowledge gap presents a challenge to the scientific substantiation of nutrition-based cognitive health benefits. Here we combined focus group transcript review using reflexive thematic analysis and a multidisciplinary expert panel exercise to evaluate the applicability of cognitive performance tools/tasks for substantiating the specific cognitive benefits articulated by consumers with the objectives to (1) understand how consumers comprehend the potential benefits of nutrition for brain health, and (2) determine the alignment between consumers desired brain benefits and validated tests and tools. We derived a ‘Consumer Taxonomy of Cognitive and Affective Health in Nutrition Research’ which describes the cognitive and affective structure from the consumers perspective. Experts agreed that validated tests exist for some consumer benefits including focused attention, sustained attention, episodic memory, energy levels, and anxiety. Prospective memory, flow, and presence represented novel benefits that require the development and validation of new tests and tools. Closing the gap between science and consumers and fostering co-creative approaches to nutrition research are critical to the development of products and dietary recommendations that support realizable cognitive benefits that benefit public health.

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This research was supported by IAFNS Cognitive Health Committee