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Investigation into the significance of task difficulty and divided allocation of resources on the glucose memory facilitation effect.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date04/2002
JournalPsychopharmacology
Journal number4
Volume160
Number of pages11
Pages387-397
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Rationale: Memory for a list of 20 words can be enhanced by preceding learning with consumption of 25 g glucose rather than an equally sweet aspartame solution. In previous studies, participants performed a secondary hand-movement task during the list-learning phase. Objective: The present placebo-controlled, double-blind study examined whether the additional cognitive load created by a secondary task is a crucial feature of the glucose memory facilitation effect. Methods: The effect of glucose administration on word recall performance in healthy young participants was examined under conditions where the primary memory task and a secondary task were competing for cognitive resources (across a range of secondary tasks), and where task difficulty was increased but dual task-mediated competition for cognitive resources did not exist. Measures of non-verbal and working memory performance were also compared under the different glycaemic conditions (glucose versus aspartame drinks). Results: In the present study, a beneficial effect of glucose on memory was detected after participants encoded a 20-word list while performing a secondary task, but not when participants encoded the list without a secondary task, nor when the 20 target words were intermixed with 20 non-target words (distinguished by gender of speaker). In addition, glucose significantly enhanced performance on spatial and working memory tasks. Conclusion: The data indicate that possible "depletion" of episodic memory capacity and/or glucose-mediated resources in the brain due to performing a concomitant cognitive task might be crucial to the demonstration of a glucose facilitation effect. Possible implications regarding underlying cognitive and physiological mechanisms are discussed in this article.