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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Jun 20;114(25):6510-6514. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1620245114. Epub 2017 Jun 12.

Impact of nutrition on social decision making.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology I, University of Lübeck, 23562 Luebeck, Germany.
2
Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Lübeck, 23562 Luebeck, Germany.
3
Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, University of Munich Medical Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, 80337 Munich, Germany.
4
Department of Neurology, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, 23538 Luebeck, Germany.
5
Department of Psychology II, University of Lübeck, 23562 Luebeck, Germany.
6
Deutsches Zentrum für Diabetes, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany.
7
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, WC1N 3BG London, United Kingdom.
8
Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, WC1B 5EH London, United Kingdom.
9
Department of Psychology I, University of Lübeck, 23562 Luebeck, Germany; soyoung.q.park@gmail.com.

Abstract

Food intake is essential for maintaining homeostasis, which is necessary for survival in all species. However, food intake also impacts multiple biochemical processes that influence our behavior. Here, we investigate the causal relationship between macronutrient composition, its bodily biochemical impact, and a modulation of human social decision making. Across two studies, we show that breakfasts with different macronutrient compositions modulated human social behavior. Breakfasts with a high-carbohydrate/protein ratio increased social punishment behavior in response to norm violations compared with that in response to a low carbohydrate/protein meal. We show that these macronutrient-induced behavioral changes in social decision making are causally related to a lowering of plasma tyrosine levels. The findings indicate that, in a limited sense, "we are what we eat" and provide a perspective on a nutrition-driven modulation of cognition. The findings have implications for education, economics, and public policy, and emphasize that the importance of a balanced diet may extend beyond the mere physical benefits of adequate nutrition.

KEYWORDS:

decision making; nutrition; social decision; tyrosine; ultimatum game

PMID:
28607064
PMCID:
PMC5488927
[Available on 2017-12-20]
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1620245114

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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