Coffee Strengthens Long Term Memory: A Research


Good news for all the coffee lovers! Until now, our favorite cup of coffee was helping us to stay alert. Now researchers from the Johns Hopkins University have found coffee could actually act as memory enhancer. Assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences, Michael Yassa and his team revealed that caffeine has an encouraging outcome on deep rooted memory in humans and up to 24 hours after its consumption, certain memories can be very well retained. 

Senior researcher Yassa said:

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. We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.

Researchers for the study supervised a double blind experiment. The members who did not have caffeine in any form on a daily basis were given either a test substance or caffeine pill (200 milligram) five minutes after they were made to watch array of images. In order to measure the caffeine levels, saliva samples were collected once before the participants took pills, then after an interval of one, three and at last after 24 hours of taking the pills.

The following day participants were asked to recall the images shown to them during the experiment. They participants again watched array of images, which included same images as shown to them a day before, few completely new ones and the rest which were look alike of the images as already seen. The array of images was carefully selected so that it gets challenging for the brain to mark differences (called pattern separation). They found that the participants on caffeine could easily distinguish between the same, similar and the new added images. The result confirmed that the caffeine has positive effect on enhancing the pattern separation, which is the brain’s comprehension to identify the variation between two look alike but not spitting image.

All kinds of memories (short term or long term) are stored in medial lobe of the human brain known as hippocampus. And is the area of the brain which is part of many research related to memory after any head injury to dementia in old aged humans.

Traditionally it was believed that the caffeine has very slight or no role to play in long-term memory retention. But this research showed that the general consensus are not true as the participants were given the caffeine pills after they were asked to memorize the images and did fairy well the next day.

As per the researcher Yassa:

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. 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.

Almost 90 % of the earth’s population on a daily routine, tend to consume caffeine (in any form), as per the survey of U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The average consumption is of about 200 milligrams that comes from one cup of strong coffee or two small cups, which is same as given by the Yassa, to the participants for the research.

The researchers now plan to dig deep into the brain processes using superior brain imaging technologies. Caffeine has been linked with long healthy life, but can it be proved useful in memory retention in disease such as Alzheimer’s and other memory related disorders is a topic for research. For now, we can proudly have our brewing cup of coffee for memorizing notes for the exams or any other important work.

Source: Medical Xpress

Explore further

Leave a Comment