Examining techniques for measuring the effects of nutrients on mental performance and mood state

Mark Hamer, Louise Dye, E. Siobhan Mitchell, Sophie Layé, Caroline Saunders, Neil Boyle, Jeroen Schuermans, John Sijben
Eur J Nutr. 2016-01-07; 55(6): 1991-2000
DOI: 10.1007/s00394-015-1143-3

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1. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Sep;55(6):1991-2000. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-1143-3. Epub 2016
Jan 7.

Examining techniques for measuring the effects of nutrients on mental performance
and mood state.

Hamer M(1), Dye L(2), Siobhan Mitchell E(3), Layé S(4)(5), Saunders C(6)(7),
Boyle N(2), Schuermans J(8), Sijben J(9).

Author information:
(1)Department Epidemiology and Public Health, Psychobiology Group, University
College London, 1 – 19 Torrington Place, London, WC1E 7HB, UK.
(2)Human Appetite Research Unit, Institute of Psychological Sciences, University
of Leeds, Leeds, UK.
(3)Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences, EPFL Campus, Lausanne, Switzerland.
(4)Nutrition et Neurobiologie Intégrée, UMR 1286, INRA, 33000, Bordeaux, France.
(5)Nutrition et Neurobiologie Intégrée, UMR 1286, Université Bordeaux, 33000,
Bordeaux, France.
(6)PepsiCo, 450 South Oak Way, Green Park, Reading, RG2 6UW, UK.
(7)Lucozade Ribena Suntory Ltd, 2 Longwalk Road, Stockley Park, Uxbridge, UB11
1BA, UK.
(8)ILSI Europe, Brussels, Belgium, International Life Sciences Institute, Europe,
83 Avenue E. Mounier, B6, Brussels, BE, 1200, USA. .
(9)Nutricia Research, Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition, Utrecht, The

PURPOSE: Intake of specific nutrients has been linked to mental states and
various indices of cognitive performance although the effects are often subtle
and difficult to interpret. Measurement of so-called objective variables (e.g.
reaction times) is often considered to be the gold standard for assessing
outcomes in this field of research. It can, however, be argued that data on
subjective experience (e.g. mood) are also important and may enrich existing
objective data. The aim of this review is to evaluate methods for measuring
mental performance and mood, considering the definition of subjective mood and
the validity of measures of subjective experience.
METHODS: A multi-stakeholder expert group was invited by ILSI Europe to come to a
consensus around the utility of objective and subjective measurement in this
field, which forms the basis of the paper. Therefore, the present review reflects
a succinct overview of the science but is not intended to be a systematic review.
RESULTS: The proposed approach extends the traditional methodology using standard
‘objective’ measurements to also include the consumers’ subjective experiences in
relation to food. Specific recommendations include 1) using contemporary methods
to capture transient mood states; 2) using sufficiently sensitive measures to
capture effects of nutritional intervention; 3) considering the possibility that
subjective and objective responses will occur over different time frames; and 4)
recognition of the importance of expectancy and placebo effects for subjective
CONCLUSIONS: The consensus reached was that the most informative approach should
involve collection and consideration of both objective and subjective data.

DOI: 10.1007/s00394-015-1143-3
PMCID: PMC5009169
PMID: 26744300 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

Conflict of interest statement: Compliance with ethical standardsConflict of
interestC. Saunders is a full-time employee of PepsiCo Inc. J. Sijben is a
full-time employee of Nutricia Research. E. Siobhan Mitchell is a full-time
employee of Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences. S. Layé, E. Siobhan Mitchell and
J. Schuermans have no competing interests. M. Hamer has received funding from
industry for research on physical activity and well-being. L. Dye and N. Boyle
have received funding from various food companies for contract research on the
effects of food on cognitive function and mood.

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