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The amino acid L-Tyrosine may speed up the brains reaction time as well as your reflexes

Mar 11, 2014

The amino acid L-Tyrosine may speed up the brains reaction time as well as your reflexes
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid shown to decrease fatigue after a poor nights sleep. It is also used by the brain to create important neurotransmitters, and by the thyroid to create thyroid hormone. A team of researchers at Leiden University and the University of Amsterdam led by cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato have carried out the first-ever study to test whether the intake of tyrosine enhances our ability to stop an activity at lightning speed. The findings seem to indicate that this is the case.
Colzato and her colleagues created a situation in which test candidates had to interrupt a repetitive activity at a given instant. The researchers tested this using a stopping task: the participants were told to look carefully at a computer screen. Whenever a green arrow appeared, they had to press a button as quickly as possible. At the same time they had to make sure the button they chose matched the direction of the arrow. If a red arrow appeared on the screen, the candidates had to keep their hands off the keyboard altogether.
The participants had two sessions in the test lab. On one occasion they were given orange to drink that contained tyrosine, and on the other occasion the orange juice contained a placebo. The tests showed that the candidates performed better on the stopping task if they consumed the tyrosine containing.      
The positive effect of tyrosine on our reaction speed can have benefits for road safety. For example, if a queue suddenly forms, fast reflexes can prevent an accident. But there are many more examples. According to Colzato: 'Tyrosine food supplements and tyrosine-rich food are a healthy and inexpensive way of improving our intellectual capabilities. This makes them preferable to Ritalin and Modafinil, products that students often reach for to improve their academic performance. Tyrosine is safe and doesn't need a doctor's prescription. The findings are published in the journal Neuropsychologia (2014) doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.12.027