Feeds

Coffee a memory enhancing drug, say boffins

Nurse, bring the caffeine drip, stat!

High performance access to file storage

That staple of the IT industry everywhere, caffeine, is an aid to long-term memory, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University.

In their study (abstract in Nature Neuroscience here), the researchers claim that theirs is the first study to demonstrate that caffeine has a direct impact on long-term memory.

The researchers used image recall as the basis of their work. As assistant professor of neurobiology and behaviour from the university Michael Yassa explained to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's AM program:

“We showed them pictures on a computer screen and we asked them to make a simple decision whether these pictures were indoor pictures or outdoor pictures. It didn't really matter what the picture was or what they said, we just wanted to get them engaged in a task and sort of encode these images.

“We wanted them to learn these images without actually telling them it is going to be a memory test afterwards and then we either gave them a caffeine pill, 200 milligrams of caffeine, or a placebo and we sent them on their merry way.”

The researchers then gave their subjects a “surprise test” the next day. The two groups were tested on their recall of images from the first test. As the university's release states, “On the test, some of the visuals were the same as those from the day before, some were new additions, and some were similar but not the same. More members of the caffeine group were able to correctly identify the new images as 'similar' to previously viewed images rather than erroneously citing them as the same.”

The university says the “pattern separation” aspect of the test – using new images that nearly matched images from the first test – provided confirmation of the caffeine effect.

This study goes against the grain, in as much as previous studies have failed to identify a memory boost from caffeine. The researchers claim their study design has helped them make their discovery.

“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,” Yassa said. “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.”

In other coffee-related good news, the most recent science on the stuff debunks the dearly-held myth that coffee causes dehydration. As explained at The Conversation here, a study in PLOSE ONE finds the diuretic effects of caffeine are less than the amount of water you drink with moderate coffee consumption. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.