Study: Caffeine May Enhance Your Memory

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 01/14/2014 | 11:30 AM EST

Two shots of espresso may give you more than just a boost in energy

Caffeine gives you a whole lot more than a boost of energy, according to a new study conducted by a team at Johns Hopkins University.

In an attempt to find a scientific motive for why students drink coffee, tea or energy drinks when cramming for exams, researchers found that caffeine enhances certain memories for at least one day after they were formed. Prior to this study, there had been no evidence between the correlation between caffeine and memory, and determining whether or not memory is retained because of caffeine or from one’s natural alertness was difficult.

To answer this question, researchers asked 73 volunteers to look at images of a number of objects. Afterwards half the group were given a 200 milligram dose of caffeine - which is the equivalent to two cups of strong espresso - while the others were given a dummy pill, known scientifically known as a placebo. Saliva samples were then taken one, three and 24 hours later to measure their caffeine levels. The following day, both groups of participants were asked to look at another set of pictures, old and new, in which the group with the caffeine were much sharper at identifying pictures from the previous lineup.

The test sought to discern the effect of caffeine on the hippocampus, a part of the brain that distinguishes between patterns --requiring both short- and long-term memory. The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, could be valuable in the study of brain cell health.

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