A recent double-blind trial study funded by the National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation have revealed that caffeine has a positive impact on long-term memory. The new information is applicable to the majority the human population, as the United States Food and Drug Administration reports that 90 percent of people worldwide consume caffeine in one form or another, and 80 percent of American adults ingest the stimulant daily.
Prior to their move to the University of California – Irvine at the beginning of this year, Michael Yassa of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, along with his colleagues, embarked on the study, which shows that caffeine improves particular memories 24 hours or more after consumption. Prior to now, it had been generally thought that were was little to no impact from caffeine on memory retention. The trial study revealed that the results were the same when the dosage of caffeine was increased to 300-milligrams, but the beneficial impact on long-term memory disappeared when the dose was dropped to 100-milligrams.
The group of over 100 participants normally did not consume caffeine. They received either 200-milligrams of caffeine, approximately the amount in two cups of strong coffee, or a placebo tablet five minutes after viewing a series of photos. Salivary samples were taken from the participants one, three, and 24 hours after the photos were viewed to measure the concentration of the stimulant in the systems of participants.
The particular effects of caffeine on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans, explained Yassa in a statement publicized by the university.
The day after, both groups of people were asked to categorize photos. Some were the same photos from the previous day, some were different, and some were analogous but not duplicates of the images viewed the preceding day. More contributors in the group that received that caffeine tablet were able to distinguish the photos from the previous days as ‘similar;’ instead of identical.
This particular study, which published by Nature Neuroscience, is new because the caffeine was administered post-study. Previous trials performed to gain information on the relation of caffeine to long-term memory in the hippocampus administered the stimulant prior.
“This way we rule out all of these effects and make sure that if there is an enhancement, it’s due to memory and nothing else,” remarked Yassa.
The hippocampus is the curved tube-shaped memory center of the body’s most complex nervous organ, located in the medial temporal lobe. It is the center for primary and long-term memory. Most research involving memory, the result of minor head trauma, and the relation between head injuries in retired veterans and dementia, is done on this region of the brain.
The brain’s ability to intake information and differentiate between new and familiar is called pattern separation, and it reveals the presence of a more innate level of long-term recall. It is a brain phenomenon that helps to assess our external world and find relations in and decipher our experiences. During a period that stems from minutes to hours after their creation, memories are present in the brain in an unstable “consolidation” period while transferring into long-term storage, a molecular state with increased stability. It is now known that caffeine has an impact on this process. In the next trial study, the researchers hope to determine the contrivances behind this caffeine-enhanced neurological event.
By Apryl Legeas