Newswise — Good news for chocolate lovers. A Wheeling Jesuit University professor reports that eating milk chocolate can improve your brain activity.

Dr. Bryan Raudenbush led the study, Effects Of Chocolate Consumption On Enhancing Cognitive Performance, assessing the effects of various chocolate types on cognitive performance, mood, and task workload.

Previous research has found that the nutrient content of foods aids in glucose release and increased blood flow. In a within-subjects design, participants completed the protocol under four conditions: 85g milk chocolate (total fat 26g, saturated fat 18g, carbohydrates 50g, fiber 2g, sugar 44g, protein 6g), 85g dark chocolate (total fat 34g, saturated fat 20g, carbohydrates 46g, fiber 6g, sugar 34g, protein 4g), 85g carob (total fat 20g, saturated fat 14g, carbohydrates 45g, fiber 11g, sugar 40g, protein 11g), and a non-consumption control condition.

After a 15-minute digestive period, participants completed a variety of computer-based neuropsychological tests assessing word discrimination, verbal memory, design memory, attention span, reaction time, problem solving, and response variability. Mood and task workload were assessed via the Profile of Mood States (POMS) and the NASA-Task Load Index (NASA-TLX). Gender and age served as co-variates for the analyses.

"Composite scores for verbal and visual memory were significantly higher for milk chocolate than the other conditions," says Dr. Raudenbush, associate professor of psychology and director of undergraduate research at the University. "Consumption of milk or dark chocolate showed improved impulse control and reaction time. These findings provide support for nutrient release via chocolate consumption to enhance cognitive performance."

Dr. Raudenbush plans to present the study at an upcoming professional conference in the summer.

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