Acute resveratrol administration increases neural effort but not whole body metabolism or cognitive performance in healthy, young participants

Eschle, Timothy M. and Goodall, Stuart and Kennedy, David O. and Wightman, Emma L. (2020) Acute resveratrol administration increases neural effort but not whole body metabolism or cognitive performance in healthy, young participants. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 4. 315–322. ISSN 2509-3304 (

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Research into the cognitive enhancing effects of polyphenols is small but growing. Single doses of the stilbene polyphenol resveratrol can increase cerebral blood flow (CBF) but have failed to improve cognitive performance in young, healthy cohorts. As both CBF and overall energy expenditure are closely related to neural activity, this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover investigation, assessed the metabolic consequences of resveratrol during high cognitive demand via indirect calorimetry (ICa). Twenty-seven, self-reported healthy participants (15 male, 12 female; mean age = 22) who reported themselves free of any food intolerances and any herbal supplementation or prescription medications were recruited for the current study. Participants arrived at the testing facility at 8 a.m. on three separate occasions to complete a serial subtraction demand battery 45 min and 2 and 3 h following administration with 500 mg, 250 mg trans-resveratrol or inert placebo, while connected to an online gas analysis system. A series of within-subjects ANOVAs (with planned comparisons) revealed a significant shift towards higher carbohydrate oxidisation during cognitive demand, as indexed by a significant increase in respiratory exchange ratio (RER) at 45-min and 3-h time points, following administration of 500 mg resveratrol. Despite this, no subsequent resveratrol-related benefits to cognitive performance were observed. These results show that acute supplementation with resveratrol in young, healthy adults can modulate fuel utilization during cognitive demand, yet this does not translate into clear improvements in cognitive performance. This study adds further understanding behind the lack of cognitive effects of resveratrol in young and or healthy individuals. Future research should direct efforts towards assessing the cognitive impact of resveratrol, and other vasoactive polyphenols, in populations with age-related or dietary-induced metabolic deficits.