• Investigating the time elapsed since the last food item was consumed as a factor affecting cognitive performance in young adults

      Walters, Elizabeth R.; Khan, Azhar (2018-12-17)
      Cognitive ability is used in numerous everyday situations (for example, in the classroom, workplace and home) and can be measured using cognitive tests designed to target specific cognitive domains. Cognition can be influenced by external factors (for example, age, education, caffeine intake and time of day) which if not controlled for or noted could influence performance. Prior food intake has not received a direct focus in the cognition literature, and therefore, this study aims to investigate the time elapsed since the last food item was consumed as a factor which may affect cognitive performance. Fifty-two healthy adults with no reported cognitive impairment or diagnosis of any eating or metabolic disorder took part in the study. Participants completed a self-rated hunger scale and stated the time that they last consumed a food item. The time of day that the assessments were completed was also noted. All participants completed a brief cognitive battery consisting of a semantic recall assessment, digit span and parts A and B of the Trail Making Test. Results revealed a significant main effect of minutes since the last food item was consumed on semantic recall and both Trails A and B whereby performance was significantly worse as the time since the last food item was consumed increased. These results suggest that information about when the participant consumed food prior to assessment should be gathered to check for any such effects. This could have implications for cognitive performance in educational settings and clinical environments, where scores often determine academic progression and further interventions.