Water Makes You Smarter

Study suggests you can improve your cognition by simply drinking water

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

A new study by the University of East London School of Psychology suggests that water boosts mental performance, specifically reaction times.

The 34 adults who participated in the latest study were instructed to refrain from either food or drinking, beginning at 9 p.m. the night before. Each participant came to the laboratory two times. They were offered a cereal bar and water for breakfast on one visit, and then just a cereal bar, no water, on the other visit. 

In order to test reaction time, the subjects had to press a button when an object appeared on a computer screen. The test group having consumed water with their breakfast demonstrated reaction times that were 14 percent faster than the group who did not drink water. Researchers hypothesize that thirst removes attention from the assigned task, weakening response time.

Although the results for the consumption of water were promising, previous tests have shown that water does not always improve cognition. Depending on the exact type of cognition, drinking water either inhibits or improves mental performance. Thirst has been attributed to better attention and increased arousal.

Although studies differ in their conclusions on the effects of water consumption on mental performance, there is no doubt that the liquid has its health benefits, if consumed in an appropriate amount

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