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Another Surprising Benefit from Eating Chocolate

Updated on July 15, 2017

Another Surprising Benefit from Eating Chocolate

JOURNAL OF COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

J Cognitive Psychology. 2015 Nov; (5): 226–337.

doi: 10.1057/cap.2014.0157

Jennifer L. Sweeney, Ph.D., Connie M. Francosi, Ph.D., Eleanor R. Rosconi, M.A., and Deborah M. Layne, B.S.

Objective

The objective of this research study is (1) to determine if eating a bar of chocolate two hours before taking a math test increases participants’ memory and (2) to determine if eating a bar of chocolate increases the memory of females more than the memory of males.

A research study was recently conducted which showed that eating a chocolate bar can improve a person’s memory (Jones, 2009). In this study, participants ate chocolate two hours prior to taking a math test, and their scores increased considerably. Through this same study, it was also found that adult females fared better than adult males on memory assessments after they ingested chocolate. (Wong, Hideki, Anderson, & Skaarsgard, 2009a)

My directional, one-tailed hypothesis is that eating chocolate two hours before taking a math test does positively affect participants’ memory (females’ memory more than males’ memory). I chose this directional, one-tailed hypothesis due to the findings from a research study that was conducted by Wong, Hideki, Anderson, and Skaarsgard (2009b). I am studying and measuring for the one direction only and that being that eating chocolate does correlate with increased abilities in memory and also in one direction only that memory recall in females is more positively affected by eating chocolate than the memory recall in males after eating chocolate. I am using the directional method because I am looking for the study to prove the null hypothesis wrong and to show that the participants’ memory improvement measure will be higher than the reference rating indicated by the null hypothesis. The null hypothesis is that eating chocolate two hours before taking a math test does not increase memory.

This research is analyzing the positive effects that ingesting chocolate has on memory. Memory recall is very important for day-to-day success in all areas of our lives. The purpose of this paper is to further assess the values of the information brought forth by research that was conducted by Jones and Wilson (2011) showing that ingesting chocolate can improve a person’s memory (females’ memory even more than males’ memory). This parallel study was conducted onsite at a quiet research center to find out whether eating dark chocolate does, in fact, improve a person’s memory.

Methods/Design

The experimental design of this study was easy to incorporate, easy to do, not time-consuming, and it was inexpensive. This study provides fast, factual, and relevant information that proves my hypothesis to be correct that eating chocolate does have a positive effect on people’s memories. Eating chocolate is an independent variable. The dependent variable is the participants’ memory recall ability. The task is that 50 participants will eat a chocolate bar two hours before taking a math test, and 50 participants will not eat chocolate bars at all during the length of this study.

Participants

50 males and 50 females (ages 25-45 years) were selected from a larger population for this research study. Advertisements were placed in magazines, newspapers, store bulletin boards, and in community areas seeking people to join this study. The selected participants were a good percentage sampling of the races/ethnic backgrounds of the general population in the U.S. The participants were first assessed during their initial screening. Baseline assessments were done to ensure that all participants met the wellness criteria, such as not having diabetes, hypoglycemia, cardiovascular disease, or high blood pressure. They were also questioned to ensure that none of the participants were allergic to ingesting chocolate and were not taking medications that could affect cognitive thinking and/or memory. Participants were also assessed at week four and at week eight to ensure that they were still good candidates for this study. Assessments were also made to ensure that none of the selected participants had chocolate in their systems before the study began. The 100 candidates selected for this study each signed a consent form before becoming participants of this study.

Ages of participants were reasonably matched for both groups. After having 100 qualified, consented and signed participants, 25 males were then selected to be in the experimental group and 25 males to be in the control group. Then, the same process occurred for assigning 25 females to be in the experimental group and 25 males to be in the control group. This put 50 participants in each of the two groups with an equal number of females and males in each group.

Procedure

Each of the participants spent the same amount of time studying for this first math test. They all received eight hours sleep the last three nights. The next day, all 100 participants arrived for the first part of the study. None of the 100 participants ate chocolate before taking this first math test. Then, they took this math test in a quiet room with a research specialist present. Each of the participants’ tests was graded and their scores were recorded.

A week later, the same participants spent the same amount of hours studying for another math test of equal length in time and equal difficulty as the last math test they had taken. The next day, all of the participants came to the study facility. The 50 in the control group were given whatever snack they wanted to eat before the test, but no chocolate at all. The other group was each given a chocolate bar to eat. They ate the chocolate bars two hours before taking this second 60-minute math test. Both groups then took the second math test in the same room as before. After the 60-minute math test was concluded, the exams were graded and recorded. A numerical grade was given depending on how well they did on their test.

Then, scores from both tests were analyzed and the increase in test score for the 98% of the participants who did better on memory recall for this test than they did on the first math test in which they ate no chocolate. The other 2% achieved equal to or a little less than their score on the first math test. More females than males by 70% were positively affected (increase in memory recall) by eating the chocolate before taking the second math test.

Each of these math tests covered the same material that each participant studied during the two days before taking each of the math tests. The participants who ate chocolate before the second math test achieved overall higher scores than they did a week before when they did not eat chocolate before taking that math test. These test scores validated my hypothesis that (1) eating chocolate improves memory recall and also that (2) eating chocolate positively increases memory recall in females more than it does for males.

Data Analysis

Final results of the t-test comparing the memory performance rates of 50 males and 50 females after they ate a chocolate bar and two hours later took a math test in comparison with their results from taking the first math test a week ago and not eating any chocolate “showed an independent t-test value of t .05(99) = 3.43; p < .05” (Ghett, Brant, & Giovanni, 2014, p. 325).

In this study, memory recall was the dependent variable. Variables that were controlled in this study included: comfortable room temperature (constant), quiet environment, clean and comfortable surroundings and furnishings, no distractions, no breaks during the test, each participant did their own work, closed-book test with no notes used, no calculator used, length of test time was set at 60 minutes, and participants sitting quietly at their desk when finished until after the researcher takes up everyone’s completed math tests at the end of the 60 minutes.

The statistical test that was utilized in this study was the t-test. It was a directional, one-tailed hypothesis and study. A one-tailed t-test was the best method to use for this study because it was easier, faster, and less costly and a very efficient method. It was a very accurate method of proving my hypothesis to be correct. The p-value was high which also showed the null hypothesis to be void.

Subjects/Results

The participants ranged in age from 25 years to 45 years. There were 50 females and 50 males. All were healthy subjects, both physically and mentally. None of the subjects were taking any medications, natural remedies, or illegal drugs. The participants never had any invasive surgery. They all had been getting eight hours of good sleep each night the last few days and had been eating three healthy meals each day. This study gives further valid support that eating a dark chocolate bar two hours before taking a math test does indeed increase memory recall which enabled the participants who ate the chocolate bars to earn higher scores on their math test.

Discussion

This study validates my hypothesis; therefore, I reject the null hypothesis. My results were similar to the previous studies that were mentioned in the introduction of this paper, therefore, validating the findings of the previous studies on eating chocolate and memory improvement among females and males with females showing higher memory improvement than males thanks to the benefits of the chocolate. Conclusions I found to be true were that eating chocolate does improve memory and that this improvement in memory is more pronounced in females than males after ingesting chocolate. Through this study, these results and my hypothesis showed to be true.

Limitations

There were limitations to this study. Age was one limitation since all participants were 25 through 45 years old. Another limitation was that all the participants were healthy subjects who did not have any medical or physical disorders, and did not have any cognitive or memory deficiencies. Therefore, this study was limited in age and in physical and mental health.

Clinical Implications

The results that were gained by this study and previous studies will make a lot of chocolate lovers happy. Not only do they get to enjoy the delicious taste of a delicious chocolate candy bar, but they also get the added benefit of improved memory. This is a great finding for the medical community who has been working diligently to find non-invasive, non-prescription methods of improving their patients’ memory ability. This may also prove to be very beneficial for people who suffer a loss of memory due to illnesses, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disorders that cause loss of memory.

Future Implications

Future studies need to be conducted to find if eating chocolate increases memory ability in people who have dementia. If it proves that ingesting chocolate does increase their memory to a good level, then that will prove to be very beneficial to the people who suffer a loss of memory from these disorders. It will be very beneficial to everyone, communities, and to the medical field.

The next study should use participants who have light to moderate memory loss due to dementia. Select 25 females and 25 males (ages 65 to 85) who have this disorder for this study. Instead of utilizing a math test, have each participant (individually) participate in a memory game called Concentration using 10 matching sets of cards. Make the cards big enough so that they can see them well. Afterward, record how each participant did on the memory game. First, have each participant play the game without eating a chocolate bar and record their score. A couple days later, have each participant eat a chocolate bar two hours before playing the memory game. Then, have each participant individually play Concentration. Then, record the score that each participant earns on the memory game after eating the chocolate bar. Evaluate the findings to see if ingesting the dark chocolate bar two hours before the study increased their ability to remember. If the findings show that the chocolate bar did increase their memory to a beneficial level, then further studies should be conducted to find if eating chocolate would improve memory in people who suffer memory problems from Alzheimer’s, strokes, etc.

Conclusion

Great findings from this study showed there to be a positive correlation between eating chocolate and improved memory (Donovan, Isaacs, & Schultz, 2014). This study also found that eating chocolate improves memory in both females and males, and also that chocolate has an even more positive effect on females’ memory ability.

I am glad to have the opportunity to analyze information and put together a written research report. This has been moderately difficult to do, and has been a learning experience as I proceeded through the various elements of successfully accomplishing this task of putting together a false research report that reads like it is a real, valid, and informative research report that captures all of the relevant and valid information of this memory on chocolate study. I have found putting together and analyzing this fictitious study to be a valuable experience that can and will benefit me in writing research papers and enable me to more accurately review and understand research and research analysis in the future. Yes, this will definitely provide me with a very useful skill in my career as well as in my school work and in my personal life.

References

Donovan, D. (Dr.), Isaacs, N., & Schultz, A. (2014, Sept.). Eating chocolate improves memory. Journal of cognitive psychology. Vol. 15(5), pp. 226–33. doi:10.1057/cap.2014.0157.

Ghett, R.A., Brant, T.R., & Giovanni, L.E. (2015, Nov.), Vol. 27(45), pp. 245-475. T-test analysis on a research study showing a correlation between eating chocolate and increased memory. Journal of statistical testing, Vol. 21(14), pp. 545-977. doi:10.1085/cap.2015.0249.

Jones, P.A. & Wilson, V.E. (2011, Jun.). Analysis of the effects of chocolate on memory performance. Journal of cognitive processes and memory improvement, Vol. 35(27), pp. 115-257. doi:10.1073/cap.2011.0512.

Wong, B.S., Hideki, S.A., Anderson, R.G., & Skaarsgard, C.H. (2009, May). Chocolate and memory recall. Journal of cognition and memory recall, Vol. 7(33), pp. 115-217. doi:10:1023/cap.3147.1725.


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