FA16-Project 12 – Final Paper

Liquids and Their Effect On Our Minds

Usman Athar

CUNY York College

The general topic of interest in this experiment is liquid and its effect on the way a person thinks while being tested on cognitive function. People know that the human mind and body can multi-task voluntarily and most importantly involuntarily. The question that seems to have been unanswered seems to be that does it affect the level at which humans function. For example, does ingesting a liquid, in general, have an impact on the mind the way coffee or caffeinated drinks do? Does the mind work better by not having another function to do at the same time or does drinking something for example help stimulate the mind and keep it working better? There’s been many articles written about the effects of caffeinated drinks like coffee and energy drinks stimulating the mind, but there’s still one aspect missing. The aspect left to explore whether the mind works better or worse in general, with or without an additional process to conquer. Adding the consumption of liquid to the mind’s tasks may or may not help increase functionality. The work that has been done in the field suggests that energy drinks do indeed help stimulate cognitive performance. The main constant within these drinks is caffeine and “most researchers concur that caffeine seems to be the main compound that drives the stimulatory effects of these drinks” (Howard, 2010). What’s missing from all these experiments is the lack of control within the subjects overall. The food ingested through the day was not the same. The environment and state in which the subjects were in were not the same. The way to really understand this question would be test and experiment. In one study, the experimenter had “thirty-five healthy volunteers (16 male, 19 female) participate in two experimental sessions in which they remained awake between 5 p.m. and 5 a.m. At 3:30 a.m. they consumed CAF or placebo in random order under double-blind conditions. Participants completed subjective effects questionnaires and performed computerized attention tasks before and after consuming capsules” (Childs, 2007). The goal was to see if whether capsulated caffeine had any effect on fatigued individuals. In another study, “twenty-four managers who normally consume between 400 and 1,000 mg of caffeine per day participated in all-day quasi-experimental simulations” (Streufert, 1997). What’s important to observe via this study is the best way to experiment would be to set a control and have an experimental variable. It’s important to keep the subjects health in mind as well, as there are certain side effects of caffeine for example that can really impact someone’s health. A study suggests “borderline hypertensive men maintained response to the stressor in the face of an exaggerated BP response to caffeine, suggesting that use of caffeine during behavioral stress may elevate BP in BH individuals to a clinically meaningful degree” (Lovallo, 2006). It is predicted that the independent variable of consumption of liquid (water) versus the dependent variable of not having consumed a liquid (water) will help the subject score better when tested on cognitive function.

There were ten subjects used for the game. The subjects were recruited in school, in the library and were students of CUNY York College. Students that were simply at the library for leisure were recruited. They volunteered at their will to participate; no incentive was given to motivate participants. Inclusion and exclusion criteria didn’t include factors such as age, sex, race, ethnicity, type and stage of disease, the subject’s previous treatment history, but instead the presence of a healthy medical condition. The conditions included students had to ingest a liquid diet throughout the day, which included all the healthy nutrients needed for optimal health. All subjects were assigned to these conditions. The subject demographics were simple, and found 5 males and 5 females to make the study even. The ages of participants ranged from 18-25 years old. Race, weight, sex, etc. were not important. Materials used to collect data included a notepad, an iPhone for the timer-app and a pen. The stimulus was simple Poland Spring water, which was the clear liquid. The stimuli were presented in a non-labeled bottle. The game was presented in a simple fashion, with an instructions page first. Responses were measured by the points accrued by each subject, after each round. A few conditions were created. One condition included the control group in which did not have anything to ingest at the start of each round. All subjects did have liquid diet before study though. The experimental group had a few conditions in which included the ingestion of water before the first round and a caffeinated drink before the second round. These instructions were explained to the subjects via an instruction sheet provided to them in the start of it all. Data was collected based on how many points they accrued through out their trials/rounds.

The outcome of the experiment were ten tallied scores which ultimately displayed that the independent variable subjects, which ingested the clear liquid (water), did better in the game then the dependent subjects that did not ingest a liquid prior to the game. In the experimental group the mean was 32 points and in the control the mean was 29.4 points, as shown in Figure 1. The standard deviation was 3.56 in the experimental group and the control group was 3.20 (Figure 1). The number of participants was 10 in both the experimental and control group (Figure 1). The variance was 12.67 in the experimental group and the control group was 10.27 (Figure 1). The mean scores of points scored by the experimental group were 32 points (SD = 3.56), and the mean scores of points scored by the control group were 29.4 points (SD = 3.20) (Figure 1). The results indicate that participants that ingested liquid prior to the starting the game were better and more attentive at the game then participants that did not ingest the liquid, e.g., water. T-test indicates 1.72 as a result (Figure 1).

In conclusion, the ingestion of a liquid or water before the start of any cognitive process indeed helps people function better and produces a better result, than someone that didn’t. The results support the notion that the ingestion of a liquid, before any exercising of the mind, helps people function better when prompted. The results indicated that the average of people that ingested liquid were 2.6 points higher than the average of the control group (Figure 1). This experiment solves a major problem in the field of education, where it can be implemented into the aspects of “how to study” and “what might help you to study”. Completing this missing piece of helping people to study further advances the field of education because as people get better at learning, the better it will be for us as human beings to find further parts of the world that are yet to be discovered. This experiment is different in a way that is solely tests the ingestion of a liquid, whereas there have been various studies and experiments on whether caffeine helps or doesn’t help in learning and focus. Potential problems within the study include getting the same type of human beings together, to make the tests more reliable. Another potential problem includes having the subjects on the same well-balanced liquid diet through the day. Implications of the study on the field include opening doors to better education and better learning techniques. Future experiments include using salted liquids rather than clear water.

(Figure 1)

(Figure 2)



Streufert, Siegfried, Usha Satish, Rosanne Pogash, Dennis Gingrich, Richard Landis, John Roache, and Walter Severs. “Excess Coffee Consumption in Simulated Complex Work Settings: Detriment or Facilitation of Performance?” Journal of Applied Psychology 82.5 (1997): 774-82. Web.

Lovallo, William R., Mustafa Al’absi, Gwen Pincomb A., Susan Everson A., and Et Al. “Caffeine and Behavioral Stress Effects on Blood Pressure in Borderline Hypertensive Caucasian Men.” Health Psychology 15.1 (1996): 11-17. Web.

Childs, Emma, and Harriet Wit De. “Enhanced Mood and Psychomotor Performance by a Caffeine-containing Energy Capsule in Fatigued Individuals.” Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 16.1 (2008): 13-21. Web.

Howard, Meagan A., and Cecile Marczinski A. “Acute Effects of a Glucose Energy Drink on Behavioral Control.” Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 18.6 (2010): 553-61. Web.

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About Robert O. Duncan

I'm an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Sciences at City University of New York, with joint appointments in Neuroscience and Cognitive Neuroscience. I also have an appointment as a Visiting Scholar at New York University. My research interests include cognitive neuroscience, functional magnetic resonance imaging, glaucoma, neurodegenerative disorders, attention, learning, memory, educational technology, pedagogy, and developing games for education.

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