Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Role of Glucose on Executive Control Vigor: Evidence inSupport of Comparative Research


The central executive is theorized to be an overarching cognitive system responsible for coordinatingprocesses that enable self-control (i.e., inhibiting habitual responses), persistence at mental andphysical tasks, emotional regulation and working memory (Gailliot, 2008; Miller & Cohen, 2001).There is evidence that the executive system relies on glucose as its energy resource (Gailliot et al.,2007) and that when humans invoke the central executive they expend large quantities of glucose.When glucose levels are low, humans perform more poorly on other tasks that rely on the central executive (Gailliot et al., 2007). Similar results have been obtained with non-human animals. When dogs are required to exert self-control on an initial task they persist for a shorter duration at asubsequent unrewarding task and are more impulsive than if they were not required to exert selfcontrol(Miller, DeWall, Pattison, Molet, & Zentall, in press; Miller, Pattison, Rayburn-Reeves,DeWall, & Zentall, 2010). Given the similarities between human and non-human animals, further research on executive control processing and glucose depletion with non-human animals is encouraged. Such research may lead to interventions that sustain and replenish executive control.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View