Acute effects of polyphenols on human attentional processes: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Piril Hepsomali, Arno Greyling, Andrew Scholey, David Vauzour

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The effects of polyphenols on cognitive functions have been extensively studied. Due to the large heterogeneity in the study designs, however, it is often difficult to interpret their efficacy. To address this issue, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analyses to examine whether acute polyphenol intake may have a beneficial effect on cognition and specifically on the accuracy and speed of attention.

Methods: PubMed and Scopus databases were systematically searched for studies published up to end of August 2020 following PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO registration number: CRD42021232109). Only placebo-controlled human intervention trials that assessed acute effects of polyphenols on accuracy and speed of attention were included in the meta-analyses. When cognitive tasks were repeated over time, pooled means and standard deviations for intervention and placebo over repetitions separately for each task for both speed and accuracy were calculated. We also conducted separate analyses focusing only on the last repetition. Furthermore, confounding effects of age and source of polyphenols were also considered.

Results: Eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria. The pooled analysis of last task repetitions showed that the acute consumption of polyphenols improved rapid visual information processing speed in young participants (SMD = 0.26; 95%CI = [0.03–0.50]; I2= 0%; p = 0.02; k = 5). All other analyses did not reach significance.

Conclusion: The results of the current study indicate that acute polyphenol consumption might improve speed in rapid visual information processing task, a higher order task with elements of vigilance, working memory, and executive function, in young participants; however, as the current literature is inconsistent and limited, further acute intervention studies are warranted to achieve more conclusive results.
Original languageEnglish
Article number678769
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2021


  • brain
  • choice RT
  • cognition
  • flavonoids
  • nutrition
  • rapid visual information processing
  • simple RT
  • vigilance

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