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Cramming for exams goes better with Red Bull

Cramming for exams goes better with Red Bull
It's been some years since Amino Acids published a study (2000) in which researchers attempted to show the mental effects of the energy drink Red Bull on students. They reckon they were successful: "Red Bull has a significant effect on mood and mental capabilities in young adults at night."

Red Bull
Red Bull would seem to be good stuff if you're cramming for exams. Or if you're tired at night, but want to keep thinking clearly. But read the study and you start to wonder if this really is the case.

The researchers, from the University of Vienna, performed experiments with ten students. At nine thirty in the evening they gave the students each a can of Red Bull containing 1 g taurine, 80 mg caffeine and 600 mg glucuronolactone. An hour later the students were subjected to psychological tests to assess their mood and performance under stress.

The researchers then repeated the procedure at a later date, but this time they gave the students a placebo.

The results of the test that measured the students' mental performance under stress are shown below. GZ = the number of questions the students answered; GZ-F = the number of answers minus the wrong answers; F = number of wrong answers.

Cramming for exams goes better with Red Bull

More answers, fewer mistakes. Judging by the results, the differences are indeed considerable.

The table below shows the effect of Red Bull on the students' mood. This time the effects are negligible. Red Bull makes you feel a little more balanced and keeps your vitality levels up in the small hours. Whatever that means.

Cramming for exams goes better with Red Bull

Although the effects are statistically significant, we bellyachers at this no-tech web magazine are not yet completely inclined to conclude after reading this study that Red Bull is an efficacious preparation for brain workers. We have problems with the way the experiment was set up.

In the section where the researchers describe how they designed the experiment, there's a sentence that rocks the foundations of the study. The researchers write that half of their test subjects never drank coffee. The effects they measured could easily be the result of the caffeine in Red Bull - and nothing else.

If so, a cup of coffee might have worked as well...

Amino Acids. 2000;19(3-4):635-42.

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