Submitted to: Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/8/2006
Publication Date: 3/15/2007
Citation: Pivik, R.T., Dykman, R.A. 2007. Event-related variations in alpha band activity during an attentional task in preadolescents: Effects of morning nutrition. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology. 118(3):615-632.
Interpretive Summary: We studied whether eating breakfast would affect brain activity related to learning in healthy children performing a task that assesses attention. Children were housed in the Nutrition Center overnight, fed a healthy dinner, and monitored for sleep. In the morning, some children received a standard USDA breakfast or were not fed (fasted), and then their ability to pay attention was studied. Compared with children who skipped breakfast, those who ate showed faster motor responses and brain electrical activity that indicated greater attention and improved information processing than those who did not eat breakfast.
Technical Abstract: Objective. Event-related desynchronization and synchronization (ERD/ERS) methodology was used to study interactions between nutrition, brain function, cognition and behavior in children who ate or skipped breakfast after overnight fasting. Methods. Healthy preadolescents performed a cued visual Go/No-Go RT task after overnight fasting (Phase 1) and again (Phase 2) after eating breakfast (n= 30) or continuing to fast (n=30). ERS and ERD determinations (8-10,10-12 Hz; frontal, central, parietal, occipital sites) and measures of sleep (overnight actigraphy) and blood glucose (finger sticks) were obtained. Results. Feeding increased blood glucose, but the groups were similar in sleep amount and response accuracy. Between-phase comparisons showed slower RT and increased alpha synchronization in fasting subjects, but little change in those who ate breakfast. Phase 2 group differences emphasized greater frontal early ERS and late frontal-central ERD in fed subjects. Conclusions and significance. In preadolescents a brief extension of overnight fasting resulted in significant changes in brain activity and behavior that were effectively countered by eating breakfast. Delaying breakfast until mid-morning appeared to have introduced fasting effects that attenuated responses in fed subjects. These findings show the sensitivity of brain function and behavior to subtle variations in nutritional status and argue for greater consideration of nutritional variables in neurobehavioral studies.