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April 25, 2019 - Three King’s College students and a faculty member presented research findings at the NEURON Conference held recently at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. The event was the Northeast Under/graduate Research Organization for Neuroscience’s annual research conference 

The research, presented at a poster session, dealt with the long-term effects of consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Using a rodent model, the student’s research suggests that overconsumption of added sugars during adolescence, which spans human ages 10-26, can cause long-lasting difficulties in learning and motivation.

Even when sugar consumption is limited following childhood, problems with learning and motivation are still occurring into late adulthood. These changes in behavior are seen without any changes in weight gain.

More recent data suggests that the ability for sugar to change learning and motivation, is dependent on genetics, meaning that individual differences in natural intelligence can change how sugar affects a person. For instance, individuals with higher academic ability show larger increases in learning and motivation following sugar exposure. Since the research used a rodent model, the students were also able to look at changes in the brain which may cause behavioral deficits.

Pictured, from left, is Dr. Jessica Anderson, assistant professor of psychology at King’s, and student presenters Rhyce Hammaker, Carlye Tehan, and Alex Maya-Romero.