Effects of the Red Bull energy drink on cognitive function and mood in healthy young volunteers

Keith Wesnes, Helen Brooker, Anthony Watson, Wendy Bal, Edward Okello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


The present study compared the cognitive and mood effects of two commercially available products, Red Bull energy drink 250 mL and Red Bull Sugarfree energy drink 250 mL, together with a matching placebo 250 mL. Twenty-four healthy young volunteers took part in a randomised, placebo controlled, double-blind, three-way cross-over study. Cognitive function was assessed using an integrated set of nine computerised tests of attention, working and episodic memory. On each study day the volunteers received a standardised breakfast prior to completing a baseline performance on cognitive tests and mood scales, followed by the consumption of the study drink. The cognitive tests and scales were then re-administered at 30, 60 and 90 min post-dose. Red Bull was found to produce significant improvements over both the Sugarfree version and the placebo drink on two composite scores from the six working and episodic memory tests; one combining the 12 accuracy measures from the six tasks and the other the average speed of correct responses from the working memory and episodic recognition memory tasks. These improvements were in the range of a medium effect size, which reflects a substantial enhancement to memory in young volunteers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-221
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number2
Early online date14 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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