By Monica van de Weerd

Most people know that mid-afternoon feeling when you just can't seem to get your brain into gear. You try your best, you take a walk, you have a break and despite your best efforts, still struggle to kick the cognitive haze. 

New research indicates that it might actually be more than a case of willpower and that our bio-chemistry has a large effect on our cognitive output. What a surprise!  

Published in the journal NeuroImage, this study sought to better understand the role inflammation plays in cognitive performance [1]. Dr. Ali Mazaheri, a senior author of this study, noted the following with regards to inflammation:

'Scientists have long suspected a link between inflammation and cognition, but it is very difficult to be clear about the cause and effect.'

Participants in the study were intentionally inoculated with an inflaming vaccine before being asked to complete a series of tests. The challenges looked at executive control, alertness, and attention. Essentially, the study asked the question, what state of inflammation caused a decline in cognitive performance, if any?

Side note, did you know the anthocyanins in Ārepa have research supporting a reduction in anti-inflammatory markers? 

The results were from a small sample group but raised some interesting points. Notably, the study claims...

'While no behavioural task performance differences between the inflammation and placebo condition were evident, inflammation caused significant alterations to task-related brain activity.'
What does that mean? In a nutshell, inflammation seems to have a greater effect on your cognitive performance, relating to how you approach tasks, rather than to your physical behavioural performance.

In the words of the study, this suggests that for you to maintain 'adequate behavioural performance' you will need to exert greater than adequate cognitive performance when experiencing inflammation. 

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