The effect of acute increase in urge to void on cognitive function in healthy adults


  • Conflicts of interest: None.

  • Roger Dmochowski led the review process.



In healthy adults, voluntary inhibition of micturition is associated with an increasing sensation in the urge to void and pain, and acute pain has been associated with transient deterioration in aspects of cognitive function.


Eight healthy young adults consumed 250 ml of water every 15 min until they could no longer inhibit voiding. Performance on standardized measures of cognitive function was measured at hourly intervals which were classified as baseline, when individuals reported an increase in the urge to void, a strong increase in the urge to void, an extreme increase in the urge to void and postmicturition.


Sensations of the urge to void and pain increased with time of inhibition of urge to void and with amount of water consumed. Having an extreme urge to void exerted a large negative effect on attentional and working memory functions (d > 0.8). These cognitive functions returned to normal levels after micturition.


The magnitude of decline in cognitive function associated with an extreme urge to void was as large and equivalent or greater than the cognitive deterioration observed for conditions known to be associated with increased accident risk. Neurourol. Urodynam. 30:183–187, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.