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Hunger is a primal sensation all humans face and satiate daily. However, hunger may not prove to be a detriment but rather a potential benefit to human memory.
A study has shown that subjects deprived of food for sixteen hours were more likely to recall pictures of appetizing food than pictures of non-food items (Morris & Dolan, 2001). Additionally, during the subjects’ recall period, neuroimaging data showed amygdala activation, indicating its involvement in linking hunger and memory recall (Morris & Dolan, 2001). Memory recall refers to subjects recalling specific pictures shown to them sometime prior.
The knowledge gap in the Morris and Dolan study is both the amount of time the subjects were deprived of food and the specific types of pictures the subjects were shown. This study aims to compare two groups of subjects, one that had eaten within the past hour and the other that had not eaten in eighteen hours, and their memory recall of various pictures part of the Memory Interference Test (MIT). Though the Morris and Dolan study aimed to find a link between hunger enhancing the recall of pictures specifically of food, this study aims to show whether hunger in general results in a higher average memory recall of various pictures. If hunger can be shown to lead to better memory recall, then studying methods for students could potentially be improved.
The null hypothesis states there was no difference in average memory recall of various pictures between subjects who had eaten within the hour and subjects who had not eaten in eighteen hours. The alternative hypothesis states that subjects who had eaten within the hour had a lower average memory recall than subjects who had not eaten in eighteen hours.
The materials included randomly selected subjects with varying levels of hunger, which are determined by when they ate last, and a computer with internet access to the MIT Pictures test located at this hyperlink. Once enough subjects with varying levels of hunger have completed the MIT, the comparison between hunger levels and memory recall began. The groups being compared were subjects who had eaten within the hour and subjects who had not eaten in eighteen hours. Memory recall of various pictures was measured when the MIT quantified an average number of correct responses per subject group and this was the data used in the statistical test. A two-sample T-test for differences in means between the group that had eaten with the hour and the group that had not eaten in eighteen hours was performed using the MIT software to compare the groups’memory recall.
After performing the two sample T-test, a T value of -3.243 was obtained with a degree of freedom of 225. Using the critical values table, the p-value obtained was less than 0.1%. At the 5%significance level, the data provided sufficient evidence to reject the null hypothesis that there is no difference in average memory recall in favor of the alternative hypothesis that subjects who had eaten within the hour have a lower average memory recall than subjects who had not eaten in eighteen hours.
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