Comprehensive computerized assessment of cognitive sequelae of a complete 12-16 hour fast

Behav Neurosci. 2006 Aug;120(4):804-16. doi: 10.1037/0735-7044.120.4.804.


Food deprivation has been shown to deleteriously affect human cognition, but findings are equivocal, and few studies have examined several cognitive domains. In this study, the authors used computerized testing to describe the profile of shifts in cognition attributable to short-term religious fasting. Multiple cognitive domains were evaluated at midday and late afternoon following complete abstention from eating and drinking beginning at midnight. Cross-domain, fasting-related deficits were found for tasks requiring perception of spatial relations. Fasting-related information processing deficits were found for response time but not accuracy for test levels of intermediate difficulty. Time-of-day effects often reflected poorer afternoon performance. These findings provide a detailed profile of cognitive consequences of food deprivation, affected by time of day, task demands, and type of outcome.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Problem Solving / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time
  • Verbal Learning / physiology