New Insights on Sugar and the Brain

Past research has shown that eating sugar can improve self-control. But a new study suggests that association may be all in your head.
In the study, which was published in this week’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), people who believe willpower is limited and easily depleted performed more poorly in a self-control task if they did not drink a sugary beverage beforehand. On the other hand, people who do not see willpower as a limited resource performed equally well whether or not they drank the sugary beverage.
The finding may suggest that people could be trained to use willpower more effectively, according to lead study author Carol Dweck at Stanford University.
Learn more about brain science in the Koshland Science Museum’s online Life Lab exhibit, which explores the science of learning and memory and the impacts of our dietary choices.
The Koshland Science Museum also offers hands-on activities on weekends from 12-4 p.m. In one of our most popular activities, visitors are challenged to guess the amount of sugar contained in an assortment of common beverages. The answers may surprise you—no matter what you believe about the nature of willpower!