Consumption of cocoa flavanols results in acute improvements in mood and cognitive performance during sustained mental effort

Andrew B. Scholey, Stephen J. French, Penelope J. Morris, David O. Kennedy, Anthea L. Milne, Crystal F. Haskell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

175 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cocoa flavanols (CF) positively influence physiological processes in ways that suggest their consumption may improve aspects of cognitive function. This study investigated the acute cognitive and subjective effects of CF consumption during sustained mental demand. In this randomized, controlled, double-blinded, balanced, three period crossover trial 30 healthy adults consumed drinks containing 520 mg, 994 mg CF and a matched control, with a three-day washout between drinks. Assessments included the state anxiety inventory and repeated 10-min cycles of a Cognitive Demand Battery comprising of two serial subtraction tasks (Serial Threes and Serial Sevens), a Rapid Visual Information Processing (RVIP) task and a 'mental fatigue' scale, over the course of 1 h. Consumption of both 520 mg and 994 mg CF significantly improved Serial Threes performance. The 994 mg CF beverage significantly speeded RVIP responses but also resulted in more errors during Serial Sevens. Increases in self-reported 'mental fatigue' were significantly attenuated by the consumption of the 520 mg CF beverage only. This is the first report of acute cognitive improvements following CF consumption in healthy adults. While the mechanisms underlying the effects are unknown they may be related to known effects of CF on endothelial function and blood flow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1505-1514
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Volume24
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cocoa
  • cognition
  • cognition enhancement
  • flavanol
  • mood

Cite this