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Effects of differences in postprandial glycaemia on cognitive functions in healthy middle-aged subjects



To find useful methods for the studies of cognitive function during a postprandial period, and to use these methods to evaluate function after test meals differing in post meal glycaemia.


Forty healthy volunteers aged 49–70 years were studied. A glucose solution (glucose 50 g) was provided through either a bolus or sipping regimen at breakfast to simulate a high-GI or a low-GI breakfast, respectively. Cognitive tests of working memory (WM) were performed at 35, 90, 120 and 150 min after commencing the breakfast, and a test of selective attention (SA) was performed at 170 min.


Subjects with higher glucose tolerance performed better in the cognitive tests (P<0.05). After entering glucose tolerance as covariate, the subjects performed better in the working memory test at 90 min (P<0.034) and in the selective attention test at 170 min (P<0.017) after the simulated low-glycaemic index (GI) breakfast compared with the simulated high-GI breakfast.


Possibly, the cognitive functions tested were enhanced by avoiding a sharp decline in blood glucose concentration and by maintaining a higher glycaemia in the late postprandial period, respectively. A low-GI diet is preferable in the prevention of the risk of cognitive decline as a result of less efficient glucose regulation.

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This work was supported by the European Commission QLK1-2001-00431 (EUROSTARCH).

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Correspondence to A Nilsson.

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Guarantor: I Björck.

Contributors: AN coordinated the study, was responsible for the study design, the experimental work, the collection and analysis of the blood tests and the evaluation and writing of the paper. KR had the primary responsibility for the cognitive tests and the statistical analysis, and was involved in the evaluation and writing of the paper. IB was the guarantor for the funding of the study and was involved in the study design, and the evaluation and writing of the paper. None of the authors had any conflict of interest.

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Nilsson, A., Radeborg, K. & Björck, I. Effects of differences in postprandial glycaemia on cognitive functions in healthy middle-aged subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 63, 113–120 (2009).

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  • breakfast
  • glucose response
  • cognitive performance
  • glucose tolerance
  • selective attention
  • working memory

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