Better programming - by eating more biscuits

Today I discovered that in the time it takes to boil a full kettle of water, I can walk to the local shop and buy a packets of biscuits.

To my delight, this marries up very well with the fact that eating biscuits helps me do my job. And also biscuits are tasty.

Thinking, Fast and Slow” describes how in a series of experiments, psychologist Roy Baumeister discovered that:

“the nervous system consumes more glucose than most other parts of the body, and effortful mental activity appears to be especially expensive in the currency of glucose. When you already involved in in difficult cognitive reasoning or engaged in a task that requires self control, your blood-glucose level drops”.

Tea With Biscuits

One particular experiment by Baumeister showed that by drinking lemonade, deterioration of performance was prevented in a task where volunteers (who had already been mentally taxed) were required to overcome an intuitive (and incorrect) response to arrive at the correct answer for a particular task.

The implication of this is that the effects of mental exhaustion can be regressed by taking in some glucose.

Even better, a separate study suggests that a combination of caffeine and glucose could increase the efficiency of the brains attention system.

So from all this I’ll take a leap (using liberal sprinkles of poetic licence) and conclude that tea and biscuits make a great programming aide.

Sadly for me there is no performance gain to be had, as regular doses of tea and biscuits have already made their way into my daily routine. But if I find myself tired and struggling for attention, I’ll need no further excuse to reach for the biscuit tin!

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