There has been a dramatic rise in the consumption of glucose energy drinks (e.g., Amp, Monster, and Red Bull) in the past decade, particularly among high school and college students. However, little laboratory research has examined the acute objective and subjective effects of energy drinks. The purpose of this study was to investigate the acute effects of a glucose energy drink (Red Bull) on cognitive functioning. Participants (N = 80) were randomly assigned to one of five conditions: 1.8 ml/kg energy drink, 3.6 ml/kg energy drink, 5.4 ml/kg energy drink, placebo beverage, or no drink. Participants completed a well-validated behavioral control task (the cued go/no-go task) and subjective measures of stimulation, sedation, and mental fatigue both before and 30 minutes following beverage administration. The results indicated that compared with the placebo and no drink conditions, the energy drink doses decreased reaction times on the behavioral control task, increased subjective ratings of stimulation and decreased ratings of mental fatigue. Greatest improvements in reaction times and subjective measures were observed with the lowest dose and improvements diminished as the dose increased. The findings suggest that energy drink consumption can improve cognitive performance on a behavioral control task, potentially explaining the dramatic rise in popularity of these controversial new beverages.
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