Lunch with company reduces cognitive control, may increase social harmony

Lunch at a restaurant with friends reduces cognitive control more than lunch eaten alone at a desk does, according to research published July 31 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Werner Sommer from the Humboldt University at Berlin, Germany, and colleagues from other institutions.

Participants in the study either ate a solitary meal alone at their desk in a restricted amount of time, or took a short walk to a restaurant for an hour-long lunch with a friend. All meals were identical in the kind and amounts of food consumed. After the meal, people who had a restaurant lunch were calmer and less wakeful than those who ate at their desks. They also fared more poorly on performance tests of cognitive control, and neurophysiological measurements indicated decreased cognitive control of performance and error monitoring processes. Since the meals differed in many ways including the presence of a friend, environment and lack of time restrictions, the authors explain "It is impossible to specify at this point, which of the variables above are crucial for the effects observed in our study."

They add, "Reduced cognitive control is a disadvantage when close self-monitoring of performance and detailed attention to errors is required, such as in numerical processing. In other situations, an attenuation of may be advantageous, such as when social harmony or is desired."

More information: Sommer W, Stürmer B, Shmuilovich O, Martin-Loeches M, Schacht A (2013) How about Lunch? Consequences of the Meal Context on Cognition and Emotion. PLOS ONE 8(7): e70314. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070314

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Remember your lunch if you want to avoid afternoon snack

May 16, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Psychologists at the University of Birmingham have discovered that focussing on eating lunch and paying great attention to the food can reduce snacking in the afternoon, according to research published ...

Skipping breakfast may be healthy way to shed weight

Jul 22, 2013

If you skip breakfast, don't worry about overeating at lunch or the rest of the day, report Cornell nutritional scientists July 2 in the journal Physiology and Behavior. In fact, nixing breakfast a few times a week may be ...

Recommended for you

Brains transform remote threats into anxiety

Nov 21, 2014

Modern life can feel defined by low-level anxiety swirling through society. Continual reports about terrorism and war. A struggle to stay on top of family finances and hold onto jobs. An onslaught of news ...

Mental disorders due to permanent stress

Nov 21, 2014

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells will have a damaging effect on and cause changes to the brain. This may result in mental disorders. The effects of permanent stress on the immune system are studied by the ...

Could there be a bright side to depression?

Nov 21, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A group of researchers studying the roots of depression has developed a test that leads them closer to the idea that depression may actually be an adaptation meant to help people cope with ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.