Need some mental boost? Drink water
New York: Drinking plain water may help boost your mental performance, a new study has claimed.
According to the study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, participants who drank about three cups of water (775 millilitres) before taking a battery of cognitive tests performed better on a test that measured reaction times compared with those who did not drink water.
This finding was particular true for thirsty people. The researchers speculate that the sensation of thirst may take some attention away from the task at hand, and thus impair response time.
For the reaction test, 34 adult participants had to press a button as soon as they saw an object on a computer screen. Reaction times were 14 percent faster among the water group than the no water group.
Water consumption did not significantly affect performance on other tests of cognition, such as memory of words, researchers found.
The study results suggest that a "freeing up of attention resources" occurs when people quench their thirst, the researchers wrote.
However, water consumption may not always improve cognition. In another test of rule-learning, participants actually fared better if they did not drink water before the test.
Future research should try to explain why drinking water appears to have beneficial effects on some cases, but negative effects in others, the researchers said.
"It might be that physiological processes [of drinking or not drinking water] affect performance on different tasks in different ways," said study researcher Caroline Edmonds, of the University of East London School of Psychology in England.
"Thirst might lead to better performance on some tasks, because the hormone vasopressin, which activates the thirst response, has also been linked to attention and arousal," Edmonds told a website.