PhD studentship opportunity

The School of Psychology at UEL will be offering a University Studentship for a full-time MPhil/PhD student commencing in February 2010.  The studentship will cover fees and a bursary of £12,000 per annum. This is a competitive scheme with a number of projects. My project is entitlted, “Does having a drink help you think? The effect of water consumption on cognition and mood in adults.”

You can find more details about the application process here. This studentship is only open to home students.

And more details on my project are below


While there are studies that suggest that dehydration negatively affects cognition in adults1-2, not only are the results of these studies inconclusive, but they confound the effects of dehydration with the methods by which it is induced (heat stress, fluid restriction and or exercise3.  A related question is whether drinking water can aid cognition under normal conditions (i.e. no or mild dehydration).

There is a developing area of research on the positive effects of water consumption on cognition in children4-7, suggesting that having a drink of water positively affects performance on tasks employing visual attention and visual memory.  However, there is very little research examining the effects of water consumption on cognitive performance in non-dehydrated adults.  The research that has been conducted suggests that water consumption positively impacts on subjective ratings of alertness8.  It also improves cognitive performance in the case of individuals who were thirsty before they had a drink8.

The research question that will be addressed by this PhD is: what are the effects of water consumption on cognition and mood in adults?

By negotiation with the supervision team, this could take a number of different directions. It could, for example, examine what specific cognitive processes are affected by water consumption. Alternatively, it could describe and quantify the water consumption effect, for example, by evaluating the amount of water drunk, the length of interval between water consumption and improvements in performance and/or the duration of the effect. It could also explore how initial thirst interacts with water consumption to affect cognition.


1. Cian, C., Koulmann, N., Barraud, P. A., Raphel, C., Jimenez, C., & Melin, B. (2000). Influence of Variations in Body Hydration on Cognitive Function: Effect of Hyperhydration, Heat Stress, and Exercise-Induced Dehydration. Journal of Psychophysiology, 14, 29-36.

2. Gopinathan, P., Pichan, G., & Sharma, V. (1988). Role of dehydration in heat stress-induced variations in mental performance. Archives of Environmental Health, 43, 15-17.

3. Lieberman, H. R. (2007). Hydration and Cognition: A Critical Review and Recommendations for Future Research. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26(suppl 5), 555S-561S.

4. Benton, D., & Burgess, N. (2009). The effect of the consumption of water on the memory and attention of children. Appetite, 53, 143-146.

5. Edmonds, C. J., & Burford, D. (2009). Should children drink more water? The effects of drinking water on cognition in children. Appetite, 52, 776-779.

6. Edmonds, C.J. & Jeffes, B. (2009). Does having a drink help you think? 6–7 year old children show improvements in cognitive performance from baseline to test after having a drink of water. Appetite

7. Fadda, R., Rappinett, G., Grathwohl, D., Parisi, M., Fanari, R., & Schmitt, J. A. J. (2008). The benefits of drinking supplementary water at school on cognitive performance in children, 41st Annual Meeting of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology. Washington D.C.

8. Rogers, P. J., Kainth, A., & Smit, H. J. (2001). A drink of water can improve or impair mental performance depending on small differences in thirst. Appetite, 36, 57-58.

9. Schretlen D. (1989). The Brief Test of Attention. Psychological Assessment Resources: Lutz, Fla.

10. Cambridge Cognition. (2004). The Cambridge Neuropsychological Testing Automated Battery (CANTAB).

11. Bedard, A.C., Martinussen, R., Ickowicz, A., Tannock, R. (2004). Methylphenidate improves visual-spatial memory in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43, 260-68.

12. Levy, R., Sahakian, B.J., Warburton, D.M., Jones, G., Gray, J. (1992). Effects of acute subcutaneous nicotine on attention, information processing and short-term memory in Alzheimer’s disease. Psychopharmacology, 108, 485-94

13. Sahakian, B.J., Mehta, M.A., Goodyer, I.M. (2004). Methylphenidate improves working memory and set-shifting in AD/HD: relationships to baseline memory capacity. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 293-305.

14. File, S.E., Hartley, D.E., Elsabagh, S., Ali, O., Williamson, E.M. (2005). Differential cognitive effects of Ginkgo biloba after acute and chronic treatment in healthy young volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 179, 437-46.

15. Goodwin, G.M., Cowen, P.J., Harmer, C.J., McTavish, S.F.B., Clark, L. (2001).Tyrosine depletion attenuates dopamine function in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 154,105-11.

16. Goodwin, G.M., Cowen, P.J., Harmer, C.J., McTavish, S.F.B., Clark, L., McPherson, M.H., et al. (2001).  Antidopaminergic effects of dietary tyrosine depletion in healthy subjects and patients with manic illness. British Journal of Psychiatry, 179, 356-60.

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