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According to some researchers, most of the results so far indicate that

cognitive function is not affected significantly by short-term fasting (Green

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According to some researchers, most of the results so far indicate that cognitive function is not affected significantly by short-term fasting (Green et al., 1995, p. 246). However, this conclusion seems premature due to the
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et al., 1995, p. 246). However, this conclusion seems premature due to the

relative lack of research on cognitive functions such as concentration and

perseverance. To date, no study has tested perseverance, despite its

importance in cognitive functioning. In fact, perseverance may be a better

indicator than achievement tests in assessing growth in learning and

thinking abilities, as perseverance helps in solving complex problems

(Costa, 1984). Another study also recognized that perseverance, better

learning techniques, and effort are cognitions worth studying (D’Agostino,

1996). Testing as many aspects of cognition as possible is key because the

nature of the task is important when interpreting the link between food

deprivation and cognitive performance (Smith & Kendrick, 1992).

Clear transitions

guide readers through the researchers’

reasoning.

The researchers explain how

their study will add to

past research on the topic.

The researchers

support their decision to

focus on concentration

and perseverance.

 

 

Running on Empty 5

Therefore, the current study helps us understand how short-term food

deprivation affects concentration on and perseverance with a difficult task.

Specifically, participants deprived of food for 24 hours were expected to

perform worse on a concentration test and a perseverance task than those

deprived for 12 hours, who in turn were predicted to perform worse than

those who were not deprived of food.

Method

Participants

Participants included 51 undergraduate-student volunteers (32

females, 19 males), some of whom received a small amount of extra credit

in a college course. The mean college grade point average (GPA) was 3.19.

Potential participants were excluded if they were dieting, menstruating,

or taking special medication. Those who were struggling with or had

struggled with an eating disorder were excluded, as were potential

participants addicted to nicotine or caffeine.

Materials

Concentration speed and accuracy were measured using an online

numbers-matching test (www.psychtests.com/tests/iq/concentration.html)

that consisted of 26 lines of 25 numbers each. In 6 minutes, participants

were required to find pairs of numbers in each line that added up to 10.

Scores were calculated as the percentage of correctly identified pairs out of

a possible 120. Perseverance was measured with a puzzle that contained

five octagons—each of which included a stencil of a specific object (such

as an animal or a flower). The octagons were to be placed on top of

each other in a specific way to make the silhouette of a rabbit. However,

three of the shapes were slightly altered so that the task was impossible.

Perseverance scores were calculated as the number of minutes that a

participant spent on the puzzle task before giving up.

Procedure

At an initial meeting, participants gave informed consent. Each

consent form contained an assigned identification number and requested

the participant’s GPA. Students were then informed that they would be

notified by e-mail and telephone about their assignment to one of the

The researchers state their

initial hypotheses.

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