No Evidence for Performance Improvements in Episodic Memory Due to Fidgeting, Doodling or a “Neuro-Enhancing” Drink

  • Gianluca AmicoEmail author
  • Sabine Schaefer
Original Research


The media advertises fidgeting devices and nutrition supplements as possible ways to enhance cognition, which often have not been validated. The current study investigates the influence of fidget spinners, stress balls, doodling, and a supposedly neuro-enhancing beverage called “Neuronade” on the encoding performance in an episodic memory task using a within-subject design. Sport students (n = 58, Mage = 24 years; 24 women) learned the method of loci as an episodic memory strategy. Memory encoding took place under different conditions, administered in a partially counterbalanced order. Compared with the baseline, none of the products resulted in memory enhancements, with the fidget spinner and doodling even reducing performances, and the stress ball and the Neuronade not changing cognitive performance. These findings strongly suggest that the scientific community should become more active in investigating claims of supposedly neuro-enhancing products.


Episodic memory Motor activity Food supplements Cognitive enhancement 



The authors would like to thank Daniel Bill, Keito Philippi, Janine Vieweg, and Manuel Zachej for their help with the data entry and for helpful discussions. The authors would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

Author Contributions

The authors both contributed equally to this study. S. Schaefer developed the study concept. Both authors contributed to the study design and cooperated in conducting the literature review. S. Schaefer collected the data. G. Amico analyzed and interpreted the data, with input from S. Schaefer. G. Amico led the drafting of the manuscript, with substantial contributions from S. Schaefer.


This work was supported by the Saarland University.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Sport ScienceSaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany

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