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J Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jul;27(7):645-50. doi: 10.1177/0269881112473790. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Can you enhance executive control without glucose? The effects of fructose on problem solving.

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KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


The consumption of glucose can enhance executive control by increasing blood glucose and providing energy for brain processes. However, a glucose mouth rinse also positively affects executive control in the absence of an effect on blood glucose. This observation suggests that glucose can enhance executive control via another mechanism, perhaps by increasing cortical activation in motivational reward pathways. This hypothesis was examined in the current study by having participants consume fructose, glucose or a placebo 10 minutes before solving word anagrams. Fructose was used because it does not affect blood glucose levels, inhibits cortical responding, and cannot entrain a taste preference post-ingestion. The latter evidences that fructose differs from glucose in its ability to elicit activation in motivational reward pathways. It was observed that consuming fructose and glucose resulted in the resolution of more anagrams than the placebo. These results suggest that at least some of the effects of glucose and fructose on problem solving operate through a common peripheral mechanism that is independent of motivational reward pathways.


Fructose; executive control; glucose; problem solving

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