JoVE Logo
Faculty Resource Center

Sign In





Representative Results






A Method for Manipulating Blood Glucose and Measuring Resulting Changes in Cognitive Accessibility of Target Stimuli

Published: August 12th, 2016



1Department of Psychology, Texas Christian University

The authors introduce a method for manipulating blood glucose and measuring resulting changes in cognitive accessibility of target words using a lexical decision task.

Much research in social psychology has investigated the impact of bodily energy need on cognition and decision-making. As such, blood glucose, the body's primary energy source, has been of special interest to researchers for years. Fluctuations in blood glucose have been linked to a variety of changes in cognitive and behavioral processes, such as self-control, political attitudes, and eating behavior. To help meet growing interest in the links between bodily energy need and these processes, this manuscript offers a simple methodology to experimentally manipulate blood glucose using a fasting procedure followed by administration of a sugar-sweetened, unsweetened, or artificially-sweetened beverage. This is followed by presentation of a method for measuring resulting changes in implicit cognition using a lexical decision-task. In this task, participants are asked to identify whether strings of letters are words or non-words and response latencies are recorded. Sample results from a recent publication are presented as an example of the applications for the experimental manipulation of blood glucose and the lexical decision task measures.

Researchers in cognitive psychology and neuroscience have long studied the impact of blood glucose fluctuations on the brain, cognition, and behavior1. For example, researchers have found that fluctuations in blood glucose predict differences in memory (verbal, digit span, working, and episodic)1-5, attention6,7, puzzle solving8, and performance on tasks of varying levels of cognitive demand2,9,10. This research finds that increasing blood glucose enhances attention and memory, and that these effects are strongest when working on cognitively demanding tasks, and in those of older age1,3.

.css-f1q1l5{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:flex-end;-webkit-box-align:flex-end;-ms-flex-align:flex-end;align-items:flex-end;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg, rgba(255, 255, 255, 0) 0%, rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.8) 40%, rgba(255, 255, 255, 1) 100%);width:100%;height:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;left:0px;font-size:var(--chakra-fontSizes-lg);color:#676B82;}

Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

Ethics Statement: Procedures and incentives involving human subjects have been approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Texas Christian University.

1. Participant Inclusion Factors and Recruitment

  1. Exclude people who have sugar sensitivities or any other health condition, like diabetes or other conditions that impair glucoregulation, and that would preclude them from being able to safely consume a sugar sweetened or artificially sweetened beverage. Exclude participants wi.......

Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here


The above methods were implemented in a study run by Hill and colleagues20 at a midsize, private university in the southern United States. The undergraduate population at the university provided the subject sample and participants received partial course credit as compensation for study participation. Using the exact methods outlined in the current manuscript protocol, the authors ran participants through.......

Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

This manuscript outlines a simple, inexpensive procedure for manipulating blood glucose, as well as a procedure for measuring resulting changes in the cognitive accessibility of target words and concepts. The above outlined methods can be applied to a wide range of research areas including social psychology, cognitive psychology, and nutrition sciences. Given that this method may be used by people in multiple research areas (some that do not typically use survey data), this section will present some tips on critical step.......

Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

This research was conducted with grant funding from the Anthony M. Marchionne Foundation (70256-23284) and TCU IS. The authors thank Danielle DelPriore, Amanda Morin, and Christopher Rodeheffer for their helpful contributions towards shaping these methods. The authors would also like to thank Hannah Bradshaw and Randi Proffitt Leyva for their assistance with filming this protocol.


Log in or to access full content. Learn more about your institution’s access to JoVE content here

Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Survey Building Software Qualtrics Qualtrics Research Suite Alternative survey building softwares / applications include Survey Monkey, Google Forms, Media Lab, and Inquisit software.
Behavioral Task Software (for lexical decision task) Inquisit Inquisit 4 Lab ( Alternative behavioral task softwares / applications include Media Lab / Direct RT or programming the task into an internet browser using a programming language of your choice (such as java).
Batch File  Microsoft  Microsoft Notepad; Windows
Lexical Decision Task Template Millisecond Millisecond survey library, cited template author is linked on page Can build a lexical decision task by hand in other behavioral task softwares.
Participant Scheduling and Compensation Software SONA systems SONA systems scheduling software Appointments can be arranged manually, too.
Statistical Analysis Software IBM IBM SPSS Statistics Standard, 22 Alternate softwares include SAS and R.
Blood glucose manipulating beverege paradigm Coca Cola  Sprite, Sprite Zero, Sparkling water Can use any store brand sugary beverage, non calorically sweetened beverage, and sparkling water beverage, as long as beverages are not easily discernable from each other by sight. 
Lancet Assure Assure Lanets 23 gauge Many brands of testing lancets available both online and at local pharmacies.
Blood glucose testing meter Bayer's Breeze 2 Many brands of testing meters available both online and at local pharmacies.
Blood glucose testing strips Bayer's Breeze 2 Many brands of testing strips available both online and at local pharmacies, but they must be compatible with your chosen meter.
 Nitrile exam gloves (400 count) Kirkland Kirkland Signature Nitrile Exam Gloves Any medical grade exam glove that provides sufficient protection from blood exposure can be used.
Disinfecting wipes Lysol Lysol Disinfecting Wipes Lemon Scent Any wipe that can kill off any bloodborne or contact born contaminants.

  1. Smith, M. A., Riby, L. M., van Eekelen, J. A. M., Foster, J. K. Glucose enhancement of human memory: A comprehensive research review of the glucose memory facilitation effect. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 35, 770-783 (2011).
  2. Meikle, A., Riby, L. M., Stollery, B. The impact of glucose ingestion and gluco-regulatory control on cognitive performance: A comparison of younger and middle aged adults. Hum Psychopharm Clin. 19, 523-535 (2004).
  3. Riby, L. M. The impact of age and task domain on cognitive performance: A meta-analytic review of the glucose facilitation effect. Brain Impair. 5, 145-165 (2004).
  4. Martin, P. Y., Benton, D. The influence of a glucose drink on a demanding working memory task. Physiol. Behav. 67, 69-74 (1999).
  5. Adan, A., Serra-Grabulosa, J. M. Effects of caffeine and glucose, alone and combined, on cognitive performance. Hum Psychopharm Clin. 25, 310-317 (2010).
  6. Benton, D., Owens, D. S., Parker, P. Y. Blood glucose influences memory and attention in young adults. Neuropsychologia. 32, 595-607 (1994).
  7. Serra-Grabulosa, J. M., Adan, A., Falcòn, C., Bargallò, N. Glucose and caffeine effects on sustained attention: An exploratory fMRI study. Hum Psychopharm Clin. 25, 543-552 (2010).
  8. Donohoe, R. T., Benton, D. Cognitive functioning is susceptible to the level of blood glucose. Psychopharmacology. 145, 378-385 (1999).
  9. Scholey, A. B., Harper, S., Kennedy, D. O. Cognitive demand and blood glucose. Physiol Behav. 73, 585-592 (2001).
  10. Meikle, A., Riby, L. M., Stollery, B. Memory processing and the glucose facilitation effect: The effects of stimulus difficulty and memory load. Nutr Neurosci. 8, 227-232 (2005).
  11. Gailliot, M. T., Baumeister, R. F. The physiology of willpower: Linking blood glucose to self-control. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Rev. 11, 303-327 (2007).
  12. Gailliot, M. T., et al. Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: Willpower is more than a metaphor. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 92, 325-336 (2007).
  13. Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., Tice, D. M. The strength model of self-control. Curr. Dir. Psychol. 16, 351-355 (2007).
  14. Benton, D. Carbohydrate ingestion, blood glucose and mood. Neurosci. Biobehav. Rev. 26, 293-308 (2002).
  15. Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D. Self-regulation, ego depletion, and motivation. Soc. Personal. Psychol. Compass. 1, 115-128 (2007).
  16. Aaroe, L., Petersen, M. B. Hunger games: Fluctuations in blood glucose levels influence support for social welfare. Psychol. Sci. 24, 2550-2556 (2013).
  17. DeWall, C. N., Pond, R. S., Bushman, B. J. Sweet revenge: Diabetic symptoms predict less forgiveness. Pers. Individ. Dif. 49, 823-826 (2010).
  18. Gailliot, M. T., Michelle Peruche, B., Plant, E. A., Baumeister, R. F. Stereotypes and prejudice in the blood: Sucrose drinks reduce prejudice and stereotyping. J. Exp. Soc. Psychol. 45, 288-290 (2009).
  19. Baumeister, R. F., Sparks, E. A., Stillman, T. F., Vohs, K. D. Free will in consumer behavior: Self-control, ego depletion, and choice. J. Consum. Phychol. 18, 4-13 (2008).
  20. Hill, S. E., Prokosch, M. L., Morin, A., Rodeheffer, C. D. The effect of non-caloric sweeteners on cognition, choice, and post-consumption satisfaction. Appetite. 83, 82-88 (2014).
  21. Campfield, L. A., Smith, F. J. Blood glucose dynamics and control of meal initiation: A pattern detection and recognition theory. Physiol. Rev. 83, 25-58 (2003).
  22. Wang, X. T., Dvorak, R. D. Sweet future: Fluctuating blood glucose levels affect future discounting. Psychol. Sci. 21, 183-188 (2010).
  23. Cohen, J. A power primer. Psychol. Bull. 112, 155-159 (1992).
  24. Fazio, R. H., Hendrick, C., Clark, M. S. . Research methods in personality and social psychology. , 74-97 (1990).
  25. Swithers, S. E. Artificial sweeteners are not the answer to childhood obesity. Appetite. 93, 85-90 (2015).
  26. Donohoe, R. T., Benton, D. Glucose tolerance predicts performance on tests of memory and cognition. Physiol Behav. 71, 395-401 (2000).
  27. Lepore, L., Brown, R. The role of awareness: Divergent automatic stereotype activation and implicit judgment correction. Soc. Cognition. 20, 321-351 (2002).
  28. Meyer, D. E., Schvaneveldt, R. W. Facilitation in recognizing pairs of words: Evidence of a dependence between retrieval operations. J. Exp. Psychol. 90, 227-234 (1971).
  29. Fazio, R. H., Sanbonmatsu, D. M., Powell, M. C., Kardes, F. R. On the automatic activation of attitudes. J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 50, 229-238 (1986).
  30. Bargh, J. A., Chartrand, T. L., Reis, H. T., Judd, C. M. . Handbook of research methods in social and personality psychology. , 253-285 (2000).
  31. Zigman, J. M., Elmquist, J. K. Minireview: From anorexia to obesity-The yin and yang of body weight control. Endocrinology. 144, 3749-3756 (2003).
  32. Wisse, B., Oglivie, I., Zieve, D. . Medline Plus medical encyclopedia. , (2014).
  33. Patel, K. A., Schlundt, D. G. Impact of moods and social context on eating behavior. Appetite. 36, 111-118 (2001).
  34. Redd, M., de Castro, J. M. Social facilitation of eating: effects of social instruction on food intake. Physiol. Behav. 52, 749-754 (1992).
  35. . . Qualtrics Research Suite. , (2015).
  36. Van Dillen, L., Papies, E., Hofmann, W. Turning a blind eye to temptation: how cognitive load can facilitate self-regulation. J Pers. Soc. Psychol. 104, 427-443 (2013).
  37. . . Inquisit , (2014).
  38. Hill, S. E., Prokosch, M. L., DelPriore, D. J., Griskevicius, V., Kramer, A. Low childhood socioeconomic status promotes eating in the absence of energy need. Psychol Sci. , (2016).
  39. . . Standards of medical care in diabetes-2014. Diabetes Care. 37, (2014).
  40. . . IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 22.0. , (2013).
  41. Abdi, H., Salkind, N. J. . Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics. , (2007).
  42. Zhang, P., et al. Costs of Screening for Pre-diabetes Among U.S. Adults: A comparison of different screening strategies. Diabetes Care. 26, 2536-2542 (2003).
  43. Hill, S. E., Prokosch, M. L., DelPriore, M. L., Griskevicius, V., Kramer, A. Low childhood socioeconomic status promotes eating in the absence of energy need. Psychol. Sci. , (2016).
  44. Flegal, K. M. Epidemiologic aspects of overweight and obesity in the United States. Physiol Behav. 86, 599-602 (2005).
  45. Flegal, K. M., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B. K., Ogden, C. L. Prevalence of obesity and trends in the distribution of body mass index among US adults, 1999-2010. J.A.M.A. 307, 491-497 (2012).
  46. . . Fact Sheet No 311: Obesity and Overweight. , (2014).
  47. Hill, J. O., Wyatt, H. R., Reed, G. W., Peters, J. C. Obesity and the environment: Where do we go from here. Science. 299, 853-855 (2003).

This article has been published

Video Coming Soon

JoVE Logo


Terms of Use





Copyright © 2024 MyJoVE Corporation. All rights reserved