Does Caffeine Increase Long-term Memory?

Cup of coffeeDoes Caffeine Increase Long-term Memory?

Many studies suggest that caffeine bears a lot of health advantages. Today, fresh research indicates that a bit of caffeine following a learning session may help to boost long-term memory. This is according to a report published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience”.

A research team, led by Daniel Borota from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, noted that while earlier research has examined the effects of caffeine as a cognitive enhancer, whether caffeine may impact long-term memory hasn’t been analysed in particular.

To determine that, the researchers studied 160 participants aged between 18 and 30 years.  On the first day of the study, the participants were presented with images of various objects and were required to describe them as “indoor” or “outdoor” items.  Shortly afterwards, the participants were randomized to get either 200 mg of caffeine in the form of a pill, or a placebo pill.

The following day, the participants were presented the same images in addition to some fresh ones. The researchers asked them to choose which images were “new,” “old” or “similar to the original images.”

200 mg of caffeine ‘heightened memory.’

From this, the researchers discovered that participants who received the caffeine were more proficient at identifying images that were similar, compared with participants who received the placebo.  Still, the researchers observed that both groups were able to correctly differentiate whether images were old or new.  New studies indicate that ingesting 200 mg of caffeine every day might increase long-term memory.

The research team carried out more experiments utilizing 100 mg and 300 mg doses of caffeine. They discovered that performance was improved after the 200 mg dose, compared with the 100 mg dose; however, there was no improvement after the 300 mg of caffeine, compared with 200-mg.

“Therefore, we resolve that a dose of at least 200 mg is needed to detect the enhancing effect of caffeine on integration of memory,” the researchers wrote. This is the equivalent of two cups of coffee or one commercial caffeine pill.

The research team likewise discovered that memory performance wasn’t enhanced if participants were given caffeine 1 hour before executing the image identification exam.

The researchers state there are numerous theories as to how caffeine may enhance long-term memory.  For instance, they say it might block a molecule called adenosine, keeping it from discontinuing the function of norepinephrine – a hormone that’s been proven to have favorable effects upon memory.  They mention that additional studies should be carried out to gain a better understanding of the mechanisms by which caffeine affects long-term memory. 

In addition, they add:

“Given the widespread usage of caffeine and the rising interest in its effects both as a cognitive enhancer and as a neuroprotectant, these queries are of vital importance.”

Possible rewards and dangers of caffeine use.

According to the most recent calculations from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the average American consumes 300 mg of caffeine per day.  The main sources of the compound are coffee, tea and soft drinks.

A lot of research indicates that caffeine offers health rewards. A year ago, “Medical News Today” described a study indicating that caffeinated beverages might reduce the danger of liver disease, while a different study from Medical News Today alleges that drinking 2-4 cups of coffee per day may decrease suicide risk .

However, it’s not all positive news. One study indicates that the stimulant is able to interrupt normal sleep patterns hours after ingesting it, while a different study purports that caffeine from energy drinks may modify heart function. 

Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans, doi:10.1038/nn.3623, Daniel Borota, Elizabeth Murray, Gizem Keceli, Allen Chang, Joseph M Watabe, Maria Ly, John P Toscano, Michael A Yassa, published in Nature Neuroscience, 12 January 2014. Abstract



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