Effect of an afternoon confectionery snack on cognitive processes critical to learning

  • Mahoney C
  • Taylor H
  • Kanarek R
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Two experiments examined how an afternoon confectionery snack affects a variety of cognitive processes critical to learning. For Experiment 1, thirty-eight male undergraduates completed a dual learning task where the primary task involved learning either a map or stories and the secondary task required monitoring a radio broadcast for a specific word category. Results showed that for map learning, participants who consumed the confectionery snack performed better on the primary task. They correctly placed more country names and left fewer blanks on a map during long-term recall. However, on the secondary attention task, participants who consumed the confectionery snack had a lower hit rate. The confectionary snack did not affect story memory performance. In Experiment 2, 38 boys, aged 9-11 years, participated in a similar, age appropriate task. Results showed that boys who had consumed the confectionery snack correctly placed more names and left fewer blanks on a map in both short-term and long-term recall. In contrast with Experiment 1, performance on the secondary task was better after confectionary consumption. However, when tested on a separate vigilance attention task, children who consumed the placebo performed better. Overall results indicate that a confectionery snack, ingested in the afternoon, generally improves spatial memory, but has a mixed effect on attention performance. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Attention
  • Carbohydrate
  • Cognition
  • Snacks

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  • Caroline R. Mahoney

  • Holly A. Taylor

  • Robin B. Kanarek

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