Are you a coffee lover? Some people choose to drink coffee to help them stay awake late at night for exams. Now, experts think that coffee is more than just a delicious brew. The latest study shows that coffee can speed up your memory.
So, what is in coffee that makes you stay awake at night and make you retain information for your exams? Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found out that caffeine not only boosts energy; it also stimulates one's memory. The results of the study, as published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, showed that caffeine enhances memory, with effects for up to 24 hours after taken in.
Caffeine is a neurostimulant substance often found in coffee, tea and sodas, though it naturally comes from plant leaves, barks and seeds. It gives a ready boost of energy when drunk, despite the side effects it can bring about such as headaches, palpitations, tremors and heartburn. Instant coffee usually contains about 30-120 mg per 5 ounces while roast and ground coffee usually contains 40-180 mg per 5 ounces. A tea-bag usually contains 238 to 402 mcg per ml while loose tea contains about 189 to 295 mcg per ml. After drinking coffee, the body assimilates caffeine and distributes it to the different parts of the body through the blood stream. From there, caffeine begins to stimulate the different systems of the bossy such as the heart, the brain, the nerves, the respiratory system and so on. However, after 24 hours, the effects of caffeine slowly wane off. Caffeine reacts differently to various individuals.
According to experts caffeine can bring about awakening and alertness to an individual consuming it. Coffee lovers report that they able to concentrate more, feel less tired and improve their performance after consuming about one to two cups of coffee or tea. However, individuals more sensitive to its effect shun the substance because it can also bring about lack of sleep, moodiness, anxiety, irritability and nervousness. It is important to note that these side effects are only short-lived and transient. Still, in some people, coffee is prohibited because it can bring about increases in blood pressure, increases in catecholamines, increases in fatty acids and increase in gastric acids further leading to heartburn.
Caffeine and Memory
The researchers of the recent study commented that caffeine has cognitive enhancing effects. They conducted a double blind trial to examine the effect of caffeine in detail to humans with reference to its memory enhancing activities. They commented that caffeine reduced forgetfulness for over 24 hours.
In this study, the subjects enrolled were not regular coffee or tea drinkers. These subjects received a 200-milligram tablet or placebo about five minutes after they were instructed to study some images. Samples of saliva were taken before they were given caffeine tablets to ensure that there was no exposure to caffeine before the study began. After one, three and 24 hours after, salivary samples were obtained again.
After 24 hours, all the subjects were tested for their ability to recognize the images from the past day's session. The images after 24 hours were a mixture of those obtained from the day before, those which were added recently and those which were similar to the ones studied before. The subjects who took caffeine were able to correctly identify the images previously shown to them and those which had appeared new and similar to the ones previously studies.
What may have lead to these effects of caffeine on the brain? The researchers hypothesized that caffeine has enhanced an ability of the brain to recognize different items. This ability, called pattern separation, is said to be a deep type of memory retention. Pattern separation, a type of memory retention skill, has been enhanced by caffeine. The memory area of the brain is the hippocampus, a part located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain. Scientists have yet to discover whether and how caffeine directly affects the hippocampus. Probably there are certain brain mechanisms excited by caffeine which lead to this function.
The researchers of this study hoped to study all other aspects of this process as caffeine can be a potential answer to illnesses with cognitive decline such as Alzheimer's. If you are looking for ways on how to improve your memory, you can check the other articles on this site.