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No Evidence for Performance Improvements in Episodic Memory Due to Fidgeting, Doodling or a “Neuro-Enhancing” Drink

Abstract

The media advertises fidgeting devices and nutrition supplements as possible ways to enhance cognition, which often have not been validated. The current study investigates the influence of fidget spinners, stress balls, doodling, and a supposedly neuro-enhancing beverage called “Neuronade” on the encoding performance in an episodic memory task using a within-subject design. Sport students (n = 58, Mage = 24 years; 24 women) learned the method of loci as an episodic memory strategy. Memory encoding took place under different conditions, administered in a partially counterbalanced order. Compared with the baseline, none of the products resulted in memory enhancements, with the fidget spinner and doodling even reducing performances, and the stress ball and the Neuronade not changing cognitive performance. These findings strongly suggest that the scientific community should become more active in investigating claims of supposedly neuro-enhancing products.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Please note that there were missing data on the Digit Symbol for 9 participants who missed the respective session.

  2. 2.

    We thank an anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Daniel Bill, Keito Philippi, Janine Vieweg, and Manuel Zachej for their help with the data entry and for helpful discussions. The authors would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

Funding

This work was supported by the Saarland University.

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Contributions

The authors both contributed equally to this study. S. Schaefer developed the study concept. Both authors contributed to the study design and cooperated in conducting the literature review. S. Schaefer collected the data. G. Amico analyzed and interpreted the data, with input from S. Schaefer. G. Amico led the drafting of the manuscript, with substantial contributions from S. Schaefer.

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Correspondence to Gianluca Amico.

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The data has been presented as an oral presentation at the “50.te Jahrestagung der Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Sportpsychologie” (Meeting of the German Sport Psychology Association), May 2018, Cologne.

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Amico, G., Schaefer, S. No Evidence for Performance Improvements in Episodic Memory Due to Fidgeting, Doodling or a “Neuro-Enhancing” Drink. J Cogn Enhanc 4, 2–11 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41465-019-00124-9

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Keywords

  • Episodic memory
  • Motor activity
  • Food supplements
  • Cognitive enhancement