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Glucose and memory : fractionation of enhancement effects?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date06/1998
JournalPsychopharmacology
Journal number3
Volume137
Number of pages12
Pages259-270
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Recent research findings indicate that glucose administration enhances some aspects of cognitive functioning. To date, those studies which have investigated the effects of glucose on memory in human participants have concentrated on its apparent ability to attenuate memory impairment. Relatively little research has been done in humans investigating the effects of glucose on memory performance in young healthy participants in whom no memory deficits exist. Moreover, the work which has been conducted in this population has produced somewhat equivocal findings. In this study, after overnight fasting the influence of a 25 g oral dosage of glucose on a range of measures of memory performance was investigated in healthy young female participants. Two control treatments (saccharin and water) were also administered. There was a significant glucose facilitation effect upon performance of long-term verbal free and cued recall tasks which did not vary with test delay. Performance on these free and cued verbal recall measures correlated significantly with blood glucose levels across all participants. No glucose-related facilitation was observed on either a test of short-term verbal memory (forwards/backwards digit recall) or a test of long-term non-verbal memory (complex figure reproduction). However, the significant glucose-related effects observed with long-term free and cued recall remained after controlling for participants’ differential baseline blood glucose levels and individual levels of immediate memory performance. Therefore, memory improvement after glucose ingestion was not merely a consequence of lower baseline blood glucose or lower immediate memory performance in the glucose treatment group. These findings indicate that there may be some fractionation in the memory facilitation effects of glucose: the memory enhancing effect of glucose administration in healthy young adults may be greatest on tests of long-term verbal recall. The results suggest that glucose may enhance retention in and/or retrieval from long-term verbal memory.