Hunger and Memory Recall
Hunger is a primal sensation all
humans face and satiate daily. However,
hunger may not prove to be a detriment but rather a potential benefit to human memory.
A study has shown that subjects deprived
of food for sixteen hours were more likely to recall pictures of appetizing food
than pictures of non-food items (Morris & Dolan, 2001). Additionally, during the subjects’ recall period,
neuroimaging data showed amygdala activation, indicating its involvement in linking
hunger and memory recall (Morris & Dolan, 2001). Memory recall refers to subjects recalling
specific pictures shown to them some time prior.
The knowledge gap in the Morris
and Dolan study is both the amount of time the subjects were deprived of food
and the specific types of pictures the subjects were shown. This study aims to compare two groups of
subjects, one that had eaten within the past hour and the other that had not
eaten in eighteen hours, and their memory recall of various pictures part of
the Memory Interference Test (MIT).
Though the Morris and Dolan study aimed to find a link between hunger enhancing
the recall of pictures specifically of food, this study aims to show whether hunger
in general results in a higher average memory recall of various pictures. If hunger can be shown to lead to better memory
recall, then studying methods for students could potentially be improved.
The null hypothesis states there was
no difference in average memory recall of various pictures between subjects who
had eaten within the hour and subjects who had not eaten in eighteen
hours. The alternative hypothesis states
that subjects who had eaten within the hour had a lower average memory recall
than subjects who had not eaten in eighteen hours.
Materials and Methods:
The materials included randomly
selected subjects with varying levels of hunger, which are determined by when
they ate last, and a computer with internet access to the MIT Pictures test
located at this hyperlink (https://ls23l.lscore.ucla.edu/MIT/CMIT/MIT/Open_Test.php?MitType=Pictures). Once enough subjects with varying levels of
hunger have completed the MIT, comparison between hunger levels and memory
recall began. The groups being compared were
subjects who had eaten within the hour and subjects who had not eaten in eighteen
hours. Memory recall of various pictures
was measured when the MIT quantified an average number of correct responses per
subject group and this was the data used in the statistical test. A two sample T-test for differences in means between
the group that had eaten with the hour and the group that had not eaten in
eighteen hours was performed using the MIT software to compare the groups’
After performing the two sample T-test,
a T value of -3.243 was obtained with a degree of freedom of 225. Using the critical values table, the p-value
obtained was less than 0.1%. At the 5%
significance level, the data provided sufficient evidence to reject the null
hypothesis that there is no difference in average memory recall in favor of the
alternative hypothesis that subjects who had eaten within the hour have a lower
average memory recall than subjects who had not eaten in eighteen hours.
Morris, J. S., and R. J. Dolan.
“Involvement of human amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex in hunger-enhanced
memory for food stimuli.” Journal of Neuroscience 21.14 (2001): 5304-5310.