The Effect of Water Consumption on Schoolchildren's Fine Motor Skills, Cognitive Function and Mood

Paula Booth
Previous research has suggested that dehydration may have a negative effect on some aspects of mood, cognitive performance and motor skills (Benton, 2011). Furthermore, a large proportion of children arrive at school in a dehydrated state (Baron, Courbebaisse, Lepicard, & Friedlander, 2015). The present work investigated whether supplementing children with water may, as a consequence of reducing dehydration, improve their cognitive performance and motor skills. In studies 1, 2, 3 and 5, it was
more » ... ound that tasks that predominantly tested motor skills, were improved in children who had a drink, compared to those who did not. Furthermore, study 3 showed that this effect was moderated by hydration status. One theoretical explanation for the poorer performance of dehydrated children is that they may lack the neurological resources to sustain their effort and thus performance does not improve over time. In support of this, these studies showed that, when re-hydrated, performance on these tasks improves to the level of non-dehydrated children. Study 2 showed that the number of errors increased in a StopSignal task in children that had high self-rated levels of thirst, compared to low levels: and hydration status did not moderate this effect. A possible explanation for the increased number of errors in children with high self-rated thirst is that the thirst sensation diverts attention away from the task, causing task performance to deteriorate. In study 4, it was observed that there was a large variation in intra-individual and inter-individual hydration scores throughout the day, which was not related to volume drank or levels of thirst. Further studies should use imaging techniques to study brain activity during dehydration and rehydration, and during periods of high thirst, to help to further elucidate the mechanism underlying the negative effect of dehydration on motor performance, and the effect of self-rated thirst on attention.
doi:10.15123/pub.5017 fatcat:yeqyj4antfccdad3qt7g6zovaa