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Caffeine might jolt long-term memory

  • Blog Post by: Colleen Stoxen
  • January 13, 2014 - 1:58 PM

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found another use for caffeine along with its energy boosting effects: memory enhancer.

Scientists found that caffeine has a positive effect on long-term memory. Their research, published by the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows that caffeine enhances certain memories at least up to 24 hours after it is consumed.

"We've always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans," said Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins and senior author of the paper. "We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours."

The study, which was funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Science Foundation, included more than 100 participants who were not big coffee, tea or cola drinkers, Yassa said.

The research is different because the subjects took the caffeine tablets only after they had viewed and attempted to memorize the images.

"Almost all prior studies administered caffeine before the study session, so if there is an enhancement, it's not clear if it's due to caffeine's effects on attention, vigilance, focus, or other factors," Yassa said. "By administering caffeine after the experiment, we rule out all of these effects and make sure that if there is an enhancement, it's due to memory and nothing else."

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 90 percent of people worldwide consume caffeine in some form. In the United States, 80 percent of adults consume caffeine every day. The average adult consumes about 200 milligrams -- the same amount used in the Yassa study -- or roughly one cup of strong coffee a day.

Read more from Johns Hopkins.
 

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