Caffeine Helps Memory According to Study

CaffeineCaffeine has constantly been on the list of things bad for you, especially during pregnancy. It increases the heart rate and amount of adrenaline produced. However, it has been linked to some benefits. According to a recent study drinking caffeine can help improve the memory retention.

The study showed that just 200 mg of caffeine helps to improve long-term memory in humans. That equates to just two cups of regular coffee. Carried out by neuroscientists and psychologists at Johns Hopkins’ Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, the research conclusion was that the pattern separation ability in the brain was improved, which makes it possible for the brain to tell the difference between two similar experiences or events. This is thought to help recalling memories effectively.

Michael Yassa co-authored the paper and explained how the study was carried out.  Sixty members of the public were recruited and all had low daily intakes of caffeine. They would then need to look at 200 pictures, telling the researchers whether they were indoor or outdoor objects. They were objects people would usually see like chairs and mugs. The aim was for everybody to look at the pictures, rather than worry about what they said.

After looking at the pictures, half of the volunteers were given two small pills, which had 200 mg of caffeine. The other half received placebo pills to make them think they had the caffeine. None of them knew which pills they were given to help assess whether there would be a placebo effect.

After 24 hours, the group was tested again and the according to this part of the study caffeine helps the memory. The volunteers were given a series of images again. Some of them had the same pictures as last time, some were completely new and others were changed slightly from the first set. The volunteers had to indicate which were which.

The caffeine only had an effect on those remembering the pictures that were slightly different.  For example, those who had the caffeine would remember that something like the coffee mug was from before but the color of it was different.

The new study shows similar results as one completed in 2009 by the Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. That study was carried out on mice to see if caffeine would help patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It showed that those with the disease could reverse the effects with the ingredient. This study used 500 mg of caffeine, and showed that within two months mice with memory loss would perform better in memory tests. The researchers stated that the mice that had the caffeine were like mice without dementia. However, more research was required at the time to determine whether it would have the same positive effect on Alzheimer patients.

Yassa indicated that waiting five minutes before using caffeine was not important. He believes the same results would be gained if a person used it before, during or sometime after the event took place. However, he says that just because caffeine helps the memory according to the study, does not mean that someone should use caffeine to stay awake and hope for the same effects. Sleep is still important for the memory.

By Alexandria Ingham

Los Angeles Times

CBC News

CBC News

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