Schoolchildren's brains work better after two glasses of water
Give children a bottle of water during their lessons and let them drink as much as they want – according to British researchers, their brains will perform better as a result. Especially short-term memory improves.
Psychologists from the University of Wales Swansea published the results of an experiment in which they tested 40 schoolchildren aged 8 in the journal Appetite. [Appetite. 2009 Aug; 53(1): 143-6.] Both tests were done on a random afternoon at school, during school hours. On one occasion the children drank 300 ml water before the test, on the other occasion they drank nothing.
Short term memory
The researchers showed the children a sheet of 15 pictures for 30 seconds, and then asked them which pictures they could remember. They asked them immediately after [immediate] and again after five minutes [delayed]. When the children had drunk water first their memory performed better.
The researchers also tested the children's attention as well, but the results were not conclusive.
A few months later a similar study was published in the same journal, Appetite, this time from psychologists at the University of East London. [Appetite. 2009 Dec; 53(3): 469-72.] In this study fifty schoolchildren aged between 7 and 9 were given nothing on one morning nothing, and a bottle containing 500 ml water on another morning. The children drank an average of 400 ml from the bottle.
The researchers observed that drinking water made the children's movements more precise [visuomotor precision] - they were better at drawing straight lines on paper. Their powers of observation improved. Ther children had a higher score when they had to find a specific letter in a jumble of other letters [visual search]. And finally, the children found more differences between cartoons that were almost identical [visual attention].
The psychologists did not examine exactly what it was that changed in the children's brains. Although the children had had normal breakfast or lunch, the researchers theorise that the children may have been a little dehydrated and that giving them water improved the effect of dopamine and serotonin in their brains.
Not too much
If you're thinking of experimenting with water as a smart drug: bear in mind there's such as thing as water poisoning. Just ask Google. [Google]
Appetite. 2009 Dec;53(3):469-72.
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