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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center

Title: Morning nutrition and executive function processes in preadolescents: gender variations in phasic modulation of frontal eeg theta activity during a go/ no-go task

item Pivik, Rudolph
item Dykman, Roscoe

Submitted to: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/11/2009
Publication Date: 4/1/2009
Publication URL:
Citation: Pivik, R.T., Dykman, R.A. 2009. Morning nutrition and executive function processes in preadolescents: Gender variations in phasic modulation of frontal eeg theta activity during a go/ no-go task [abstract]. FASEB J. 23(1_MeetingAbstracts):553.16.

Interpretive Summary: We studied whether eating breakfast would affect brain activity related to attention and behavioral control in healthy children performing a task requiring them to make or withhold a motor response to specific visual stimuli. Children were tested in the morning first while all were fasting and then again after they had either eaten or skipped breakfast. Compared with boys who ate breakfast, when those who skipped breakfast had to withhold a motor response they showed a decrease in frontal theta activity, a type of brain electrical activity related to response inhibition. Similar effects were not present in girls. These findings suggest that brain activity related to behavioral control may be influenced by morning nutrition, particularly in boys.

Technical Abstract: Frontal EEG theta activity has been related to executive functions (i.e., goal-directed behavior such as inhibition and flexibility of action). We studied the effects of morning nutritional status on frontal theta-executive function relationships using stimulus-locked responses [event-related increases (ERS) and decreases (ERD) in synchronization] of 4-6 Hz activity in a cued visual go/no-go task in healthy, right-handed children (8-11 yrs. old; IQ > 80). Children were tested after overnight fasting (Phase 1), and again (Phase 2) after eating a standardized breakfast (n = 30; 15 males) or while continuing to fast (n = 30; 15 males). Performance measures—-accuracy and reaction time (RT)—-were obtained. Data were analyzed using ANOVA procedures with post-hoc t-tests. Response accuracy was similar across groups. Relative to Phase 1, RT slowed in Phase 2 for both groups, but significantly only for fasting females (p < .01). Consistent with increased executive function demands associated with response inhibition, ERS was greater to no-go than go stimuli (p < .05) for both groups. Nutritional status did not significantly influence ERS responses in females, but Phase 2 responses to no-go stimuli were decreased in fasting, but not fed, males (p < .05). These data suggest a greater sensitivity of frontal executive function processes to morning nutritional status in preadolescent males than females.

Last Modified: 06/24/2017
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