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Tags: sugar | attention | self | control

Can Sugar Boost Self-Control?

Friday, 09 November 2012 10:11 AM EST

Sugar has long been tagged as a dietary evil, tied to everything from obesity to diabetes. But new research out of the University of Georgia has found sugar — in the form of a mouth rinse — may offer a benefical boost to self-control and attention.
The findings, published in the journal Psychological Science, suggest gargling with sugar water or a sweetened drink may somehow help prime the brain to help people focus more intently on mental tasks.
"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," said lead researcher Leonard Martin, a UGA professor of psychology.
"The research is not clear yet on the effects of swishing with glucose on long-term self-control," he said. "So, if you are trying to quit smoking, a swish of lemonade may not be the total cure, but it certainly could help you in the short run."
For the study, Martin tested 51 students who performed two tasks to gauge their levels of self-control. The first task, which has shown to deplete self-control, was the meticulous crossing out of Es on a page from a statistics book. Then, participants were asked to identify the color of various words flashed on a screen, which spell out the names of other colors. The goal is to turn off the student's tendency to read the words and instead focus on the colors.
Half of the students rinsed their mouths with lemonade sweetened with sugar while performing the color test; the other half with Splenda-sweetened lemonade. Students who rinsed with sugar, rather than artificial sweetener, performed significantly better on the test.
"It doesn't just crank up your energy,” Martin said of the glucose used in the test, “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."

© HealthDay

Gargling with sugar has been found to boost self-control and attention in college students.
Friday, 09 November 2012 10:11 AM
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