A new study from the University of Georgia, published in the journal Psychological Science, has found that sugar can boost brain power. The researchers studied 51 people doing two tasks. The participants were divided into two groups. The first group gargled with lemonade sweetened with sugar. The second group gargled with lemonade made with artificial sweetener.
The participants then focused on their tasks. They first had to cross out every e on a sheet of paper from a statistics textbook. They then had to complete a Stroop test. A Stroop test quizzes people by having words of colored printed in a different color than the word says. It frustrates the brain to differentiate between the text and color visual cues.
The results were that the real sugar group was significantly faster at completing the tests when compared with the artificial sweetener group. The causation for this result is that glucose triggers the brain’s motivational center, which causes a participant to focus extra hard on the task at hand.
The co-author of the study, UGA psychology professor Leonard Martin, commented on the findings. “Researchers used to think you had to drink the glucose and get it into your body to give you the energy to [have] self control. After this trial, it seems that glucose stimulates the simple carbohydrate sensors on the tongue. This, in turn, signals the motivational centers of the brain where our self-related goals are represented. These signals tell your body to pay attention.” He added that, “it doesn’t just crank up your energy, but it cranks up your personal investment in what you are doing. Clicking into the things that are important to you makes those self-related goals salient.”
In regards to the testing, Martin adds, “The glucose seems to be good at getting you to stop an automatic response such as reading the words in the Stroop task and to substitute the second harder one in its place such as saying the color the word is printed in. It can enhance emotive investment and self-relevant goals.”
To try this theory on yourself, gargle sugar water when you really need to focus.