Blood Sugar Shortens Attention Span
YORK (Reuters Health) - Employees who forego lunch in an attempt
to meet a pressing deadline may finish the task, but their work
just might fall short of company standards, results of a study
sugar (hypoglycemia), which can occur when otherwise healthy individuals
neglect to eat, can slow the speed at which people process information
and shorten their attention span, researchers explain. Although
low blood sugar can be reversed with just a few bites of a sandwich,
it can affect daily activities at work and at home, according
to the report in the October issue of Diabetes Care.
of the study apply to both healthy individuals who ignore hunger
pangs and to diabetics, who must monitor blood sugar (glucose)
and insulin levels on an ongoing basis, Dr. Ian J. Deary, a study
author from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, told Reuters
Health. He added that hypoglycemia occurs when the brain is temporarily
deprived of glucose, its main source of energy.
attention tasks that are relevant to everyday life are likely
to be impaired during moderate hypoglycemia,'' Deary and colleagues
the effects of low blood sugar on the brain, the investigators
induced hypoglycemia in 20 healthy men and women through injections
of synthetic insulin. Insulin, the body's key blood sugar-regulating
hormone, allows the body to use sugar from the blood as fuel.
Injecting insulin into the bloodstream can cause dips in blood
underwent a series of tests to measure nonverbal intelligence,
including their ability to solve problems, and to measure attention
during periods of low and normal blood sugar.
One test asked
study participants to search for particular symbols on a map for
a 2-minute period. In another, volunteers pretended they were
on an elevator and were asked to determine which floor the elevator
had reached based on a series of tones played on a tape.
were less able to pay attention during hypoglycemia, the report
indicates, and they also processed visual and auditory information
more slowly. In the map tests, participants were able to pick
out designated symbols correctly but the speed at which they located
symbols declined. Nonverbal intelligence, however, was not affected.
a significant deterioration occurs in attentional abilities,''
Deary's team concludes.
Diabetes Care 2001;24:1745-1750.
Reference Source 89
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