If you are an avid coffee junkie who cannot do without the early morning jolt of caffeine, now you can sip on your beloved brew, unhinged. A recent study provides a scientific motive for students slurping coffee, tea or energy drinks when cramming for exams.
A team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, found that caffeine enhances certain memories for at least a day after they were formed. Evidence for caffeine as a memory booster has been anecdotal until now. This is because the process of registering memories — say, reading a book ahead of an exam -- may happen in conditions where the person is eager to absorb and retain information. This makes it hard to distinguish between someone’s natural alertness and that derived from caffeine.
To strip out this confounding factor, a team led by Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain science, asked 73 volunteers to look at images of a number of objects. Afterwards, half of the group were given roughly two cups of strong espresso. The following day, both groups were asked to look at another set of pictures. Some of the images were the same, others were new, and a few were similar. Those on caffeine were much sharper at identifying the “similar” items in the lineup.
“Caffeine is associated with longevity and may have some protective effects from cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s disease,” Yassa said.