Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cocoa + caffeine = more attention, motivation to perform cognitive work; less anxiety & fatigu

Deep down, we always knew it, but science is proving that cocoa and caffeine are indeed the best marriage ever. Clarkson University researcher Ali Boolani recently completed a study that explores the powers of these two dark delights.

The assistant professor of physical therapy and physician assistant studies teamed up with colleagues at the University of Georgia to examine the "acute effects of brewed cocoa consumption on attention, motivation to perform cognitive work and feelings of anxiety, energy and fatigue."

In a nearly year-long double-blind study, some lucky test subjects drank brewed cocoa, cocoa with caffeine, caffeine without cocoa, and a placebo with neither caffeine nor cocoa. Then they were asked to do tests to evaluate both cognitive tasks and mood.


Brewed cocoa can acutely reduce errors associated with attention in the absence of changes in either perceived motivation to perform cognitive tasks or feelings of energy and fatigue. Supplemental caffeine in brewed cocoa can enhance aspects of attention while brewed cocoa can attenuate the anxiety-provoking effects found from drinking caffeine alone.

"It was a really fun study," Boolani says. "Cocoa increases cerebral blood flow, which increases cognition and attention. Caffeine alone can increase anxiety. This particular project found that cocoa lessens caffeine's anxiety-producing effects -- a good reason to drink mocha lattes!"

"The results of the tests are definitely promising and show that cocoa and caffeine are good choices for students and anyone else who needs to improve sustained attention," says Boolani.

Boolani and his colleagues - have published a paper about the results of their study in the journal BMC Nutrition.

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