Water Intake, Hydration, and Cognitive Performance in Children

Gertrude Gentile-Rapinett, PhD
Nestlé Research Centre Lausanne



  • In children, dehydration is associated with a reluctance to participate in difficult tasks, a loss of psychomotor skills (movement driven by mental processes, as opposed to reflexive movement), reduced cognitive function, and an impaired short and long-term memory.
  • Depending on the child’s current hydration status, supplementing water can either improve or worsen cognitive performance.
  • Habitual hydration is imperative for optimal cognition in humans. Although this has not yet been extensively explored in pets, we should aim to ensure that our pets have an unlimited access to water (unless contraindicated) and that there are minimal fluctuations between dehydrated and hyper-hydrated states.



Gertrude Gentile-Rapinett PhD, Nestlé Research Center – Lausanne

After obtaining a doctorate degree in experimental psychology at the University of Sussex in the U.K., Dr. Gentile-Rapinett went on to specialize in cognitive development, holding various positions at the Max Planck Institute in Munich and at the University of Zurich, investigating memory processes and intentional actions and embodied cognition. Since 2007, she has been working as a senior research scientist at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland focusing on exploring how to support cognitive development in children through nutrition.