In a new studioa team of researchers discovered that feeding the rats with soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi caused enough damage to rodent brains to trigger memory problems, cognitive decline, and cellular distress.
Even though it is still premature to homologate this in humans, the consequences for these animals were disastrous.
Long-term, consistent consumption of sugary cola-based soft drinks specifically may also be directly linked to brain health and behavioral problems, and, apparently, the inability to navigate a maze for rats.
The scientists first separated the rats into three age groups: 2 months, 8 months and 14 months of age. Each of these age groups was divided into cohorts that drank water and that drank cola and water. After 57 days, the scientists put some rodents through some maze-based behavioral tests, and ten days after that, the rats were euthanized so the scientists could examine any differences in their brains.
The researchers found that most of the soda drinkers, specifically the 2- and 8-month-old rats, had worse memories and generally lower cognitive function than their purist counterparts, causing serious difficulties when trying to navigate mazes.
They were also found to have suffered varying degrees of damage to the frontal cortex, which controls vital mental functions such as attention, memory and judgment, as well as the hippocampus, which plays an important role in both memory and learning.