Tyrosine improves working memory in a multitasking environment

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1999 Nov;64(3):495-500. doi: 10.1016/s0091-3057(99)00094-5.


Previous studies indicate that tyrosine may prove useful in promoting improved performance in situations in which performance is compromised by stress. To extend the generality of previous tyrosine findings, the present study examined the effects of tyrosine ingestion on performance during both a Multiple Task and a Simple Task battery. The multiple task battery was designed to measure working memory, arithmetic skills, and visual and auditory monitoring simultaneously, whereas the simple task battery measured only working memory and visual monitoring. Ten men and 10 women subjects underwent these batteries 1 h after ingesting 150 mg/kg of l-tyrosine or placebo. Administration of tyrosine significantly enhanced accuracy and decreased frequency of list retrieval on the working memory task during the multiple task battery compared with placebo. However, tyrosine induced no significant changes in performance on the arithmetic, visual, or auditory tasks during the Multiple Task, or modified any performance measures during the Simple Task battery. Blood levels of ACTH and cortisol were not, but heart rate and blood pressure were significantly increased during the performance tasks. The present results indicate that tyrosine may sustain working memory when competing requirements to perform other tasks simultaneously degrade performance, and that supplemental tyrosine may be appropriate for maintaining performance when mild to severe decrements are anticipated.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood
  • Adult
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Auditory Perception / drug effects
  • Catecholamines / blood
  • Endocrine Glands / drug effects
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / drug effects*
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Tyrosine / blood
  • Tyrosine / pharmacology*
  • Visual Perception / drug effects


  • Catecholamines
  • Tyrosine
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone