« Make healthy hydration the new norm »

The effect of hydration on cognition in children

By Dr. Charles Hillman

Recorded on 23/07/2020

cognition children


About the speaker

Dr. Charles Hillman received his doctorate from the University of Maryland in 2000, and then began his career on the faculty at the University of Illinois, where he was a Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health for 16 years. He directs the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health, which has the mission of understanding the role of health behaviors on brain and cognition to maximize health and well-being, and promote the effective functioning of individuals across the lifespan.

Dr. Hillman has published more than 180 refereed journal articles, 11 book chapters, and co-edited a text entitled Functional Neuro-imaging in Exercise and Sport Sciences. His work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), and several private sponsors. Finally, his work has been featured in the media including: CNN, National Public Radio, Good Morning America, Newsweek, and the New York Times.

About the talk

To date, no study has investigated differences in children’s cognition following a prolonged intervention of water intake leading to changes in hydration status. The Water Improves Thinking in Kids (WITIKids) study compared cognitive performance of 74 children (9-10 years old; 32 females) following three 4-day water intake conditions: baseline (typical water intake), low intake (.5 L), high intake (2.5 L).

Cognition was measured using a battery of executive control tasks including: Go/NoGo, flanker, switch tasks, reflecting response inhibition, perceptual interference, working memory, and cognitive flexibility components of executive control.

Results demonstrated efficacy in the water intake interventions with significant differences in urine markers (e.g., USG, Uosm) observed between the high and low intake conditions. Cognitive outcomes revealed greater response accuracy for the Go/NoGo and switch tasks following the high compared to the low water intake condition, indicating greater response inhibition and working memory, respectively.