Can Drinking More Water Boost Your Brain’s Response Time?

water brainIf you search the Internet for information about drinking water, you may be surprised how much has been written about it. There are plenty of so-called "experts" out there dispensing advice about that magic number of water glasses we must each consume every day. But how many people actually keep track of it?

Thankfully, researchers have concluded that the amount of water we need is based on a number of different factors, including how active we are, our diet, weight, and medications we take. It is no surprise that 8 glasses is necessary for one person but not the other. In fact, drinking water is a lot like sleep. Some people need eight hours and others only need five.

According to an article on Medical News Today, "Drinking water boosts your brain's reaction time," new research has revealed that drinking water when we are thirsty boosts the brain's performance. Researchers for the University of Westminster and the University of East London in the UK analyzed the potential effects of water on cognitive performance and mood. Participants had an average age of 29.

The results of this study were published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, where participants took part in "water" and "no water" experiments.

People who were in the "water" experiment had to complete some specific mental tests after consuming a cereal bar and drinking water. People in the "no water" test consumed the cereal bar alone. The participants in the "water" test were allowed to drink as much water as they needed to quench their thirst.

According to the East London School of Psychology, people found that reaction times were faster when they were allowed to drink according to their thirst.

Here are some related facts about water's effect on cognitive ability:

Drinking three cups of water before completing a task can increase the brain's reaction time by 14%.

The participants who drank around three cups of water (775 milliliters) just before completing the tests had a 14% increased reaction time compared with those who did not drink any water.

The researchers analyzed particular areas of the participants' brain, including reaction time, verbal recognition memory, visual memory and learning. In the process, they also learned that water consumption appeared to have a "corrective effect" on response times of thirsty individuals, thereby improving their response time up to the same level as non-thirsty individuals.

Can water also have a negative impact on cognitive performance?

The same study that showed a positive impact on cognition after drinking water also showed that people who drank water could also perform worse in certain areas. The MNT study showed that people performed worse on complex rule-learning after drinking, also known as an Intra-Extra Dimensional Set Shift test. Here, participants are monitored for their attention flexibility through their ability to discriminate a series of visual images.

Overall, however, it appears that compared to thirsty individuals the brains of people who recently drank water are functioning more efficiently. Another question that researchers hope to resolve is the amount of water that is optimal for human cognitive performance.

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