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Acute Dietary Supplementation with Flavonoids: Effects on Cognition

The major objective of this project is to assess whether a single-dose of cocoa flavonoids are responsible for the reported beneficial effects of flavonoid-rich foods on learning, memory and cognitive performance in older human adults.

Department: Psychology, Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences

Supervised by: Dr Claire Williams

The Placement Project

Various phytochemical constituents of certain foods and beverages, in particular those using wine, tea, cocoa or blueberries, have begun to demonstrate beneficial effects on cognition While such foods and beverages differ greatly in chemical composition, nutrient content and calories per serving, they have in common that they are amongst the major dietary sources of flavonoids. Dietary supplementation studies in humans and animal models using foods or extracts rich in flavonoids have indicated that they possess an ability to enhance memory and learning. For example, we have recently shown that a 21 day dietary intervention in aged animals using flavonoid-rich blueberries resulted in significant improvements in spatial working memory (Williams et al, 2008). As part of an ongoing larger project, you will be involved in determining whether an acute (single-dose) administration with a cocoa beverage containing either high or low levels of flavonoids can produce improvements in cognitive performance in an older adult population. Participants will enter attend the laboratory for 1 full day, during which you will administer a battery of tasks designed to assess changes in memory, executive function, mood and motor function in response to the flavonoid supplementation. Participants will be tested on the tasks before and after flavonoid supplementation.

Tasks

The student will test approximately 25-30 participants (4 weeks) and code and analyse the data (2 weeks). The student will also write, with advice and support, the initial draft of the method and results of the acute portion of the experiment.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

General knowledge of experimental methodology, experience in using software for statistical analyses (e.g. SPSS) and general computing skills (e.g. Word, Excel).

Skills which will be developed during the placement

You will learn how to conduct experiments in a real-world setting and other general laboratory skills (e.g. randomisation of test procedures). You will learn also how to code data and to enter this into SPSS and improve your ability to use Excel and SPSS. You will be a contributing author on the resulting article.

Place of Work

School of Psychology & Clinical Langauge Sciences

Hours of Work

Full-time (negotiable)

Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Unknown - Unknown

How to Apply

Please apply by CV and covering letter to Claire.williams@rdg.ac.uk


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