The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, involved over 100 volunteers in a double-blind test. They were asked to review a series of images and identify the pictures as being either indoor or outdoor items. Five minutes after the review, each volunteer was given a pill containing either 200mg of caffeine or a placebo. The next day, the volunteers were shown another selection of images and asked to identify which pictures were from the previous group, which pictures were new, and which pictures were similar to those in the first batch.
The results revealed that while all volunteers were able to determine the old and the new images, those who had taken the caffeine pill could identify the similar images. As Dr. Michael Yassa, the U.S. lead researcher and assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at John Hopkins University explains, “If we used a standard recognition memory task without these tricky similar items, we would have found no effect of caffeine. However, using these items requires the brain to make a more difficult discrimination — what we call pattern separation, which seems to be the process that is enhanced by caffeine in our case.”
Before you start chugging down monster packs of Red Bull, it’s important to note the quantity of caffeine used in this test — just 200mg, which is roughly the amount of caffeine found in a double espresso. That amount is considered a safe daily dose, but if your consumption is much higher you should think about trying to reduce it. After all, it’s much harder to ace that pop quiz when you’ve got the jitters from too may cups of joe, right? (The Independent)