Electro-physiological changes in the brain induced by caffeine or glucose nasal spray

K De Pauw, B Roelands, J Van Cutsem, U Marusic, T Torbeyns, R Meeusen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: A direct link between the mouth cavity and the brain for glucose (GLUC) and caffeine (CAF) has been established. The aim of this study is to determine whether a direct link for both substrates also exist between the nasal cavity and the brain.

METHODS: Ten healthy male subjects (age 22 ± 1 years) performed three experimental trials, separated by at least 2 days. Each trial included a 20-s nasal spray (NAS) period in which solutions placebo (PLAC), GLUC, or CAF were provided in a double-blind, randomized order. During each trial, four cognitive Stroop tasks were performed: two familiarization trials and one pre- and one post-NAS trial. Reaction times and accuracy for different stimuli (neutral, NEUTR; congruent, CON; incongruent INCON) were determined. Electroencephalography was continuously measured throughout the trials. During the Stroop tasks pre- and post-NAS, the P300 was assessed and during NAS, source localization was performed using standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: NAS activated the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). CAF-NAS also increased θ and β activity in frontal cortices. Furthermore, GLUC-NAS increased the β activity within the insula. GLUC-NAS also increased the P300 amplitude with INCON (P = 0.046) and reduced P300 amplitude at F3-F4 and P300 latency at CP1-CP2-Cz with NEUTR (P = 0.001 and P = 0.016, respectively). The existence of nasal bitter and sweet taste receptors possibly induce these brain responses.

CONCLUSION: Greater cognitive efficiency was observed with GLUC-NAS. CAF-NAS activated cingulate, insular, and sensorymotor cortices, whereas GLUC-NAS activated sensory, cingulate, and insular cortices. However, no effect on the Stroop task was found.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Attention
  • EEG
  • ERP P300
  • Source localization
  • Stroop
  • Caffeine/pharmacology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electroencephalography/methods
  • Humans
  • Nasal Sprays
  • Male
  • Administration, Intranasal
  • Brain/drug effects
  • Young Adult
  • Stroop Test
  • Glucose/pharmacology
  • Reaction Time/drug effects
  • Brain Mapping


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