Glucose and the wandering mind: not paying attention or simply out of fuel?

Birnie, Leonard, Smallwood, Jonathan, Reay, Jonathon and Riby, Leigh (2015) Glucose and the wandering mind: not paying attention or simply out of fuel? Psychopharmacology, 232 (16). pp. 2903-2910. ISSN 0033-3158

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Rationale/objectives - The impact of raising glycaemia by ingestion of a glucose drink has revealed cognitive facilitation, particularly for memory and attention. This study aimed to extend current knowledge by examining, for the first time, whether glucose load also moderates task-related (TRT) and task-unrelated thoughts (TUT) during activities that vary in their requirement for sustained attention.

Method - A 2 (25 g glucose vs. placebo) × 2 (fast vs. slow version of the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART)) repeated measures, counterbalanced design was used with 16 healthy adults. Self-report questionnaires probed participants’ levels of TRT and TUT during SART performance. Prior to testing, the Short Imaginal Processes Inventory (SIPI) was also administered to help pinpoint the nature of thought processes during the task before and after treatment.

Results - Analysis of variance revealed no significant effect of treatment; however, we report a pattern of results that is consistent with glucose facilitation effects on task accuracy for more demanding attention tasks (d = 0.56). Additionally, glucose improved the monitoring and task reflection as measured by TRT (d = 0.33) in the more demanding task but no effect on TUT. Probing the nature of thought processes further, we also report two novel correlations (in the placebo) between fears of failure (indexed by the SIPI) and the number of TUT episodes and perceived poor attention control (indexed by the SIPI) and number of TUT and speculate that glucose may act to buffer against TUT episodes under externally demanding situations.

Conclusions - These data extend previous research examining the glucose facilitation effect to the processing of internal thought processes.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online 18/04/15 ahead of print.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Glucose, Glucose ingestion, Mind wandering, Self-control, Attentional control, Executive function, Self-generated thought, Task-related thought, Task-unrelated thought, SART
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 05 May 2015 08:46
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2019 17:27

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