Lunch with company reduces cognitive control, may increase social harmony

July 31, 2013

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

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

July 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

Neural efficiency hypothesis confirmed

July 27, 2015

One of the big questions intelligence researchers grapple with is just how differences in intelligence are reflected in the human brain. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in studying further details relating to suspected ...

Fatherhood makes men fat

July 21, 2015

All those leftover pizza crusts you snatch from your kids' plates add up. Men gain weight after they become fathers for the first time whether or not they live with their children, reports a large, new Northwestern Medicine ...

0 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.