Study: Caffeine can brew up long-term memory retention

It seems grabbing that first cup of coffee in the morning – or that two p.m. caffeine fix at the office – may do some good. A new study has discovered that caffeine can actually improve coffee drinkers’ memory retention, reports the Agence-France Presse (AFP).

According to researchers at the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, 200 milligrams of caffeine, which is usually the amount in a strong cup of coffee, boosted memory 24 hours later. Of course, it doesn’t just have to be coffee, because caffeine can be located in tea, soda and chocolate. Study authors say the caffeine source doesn’t matter, because the caffeine effects will likely be the same.

Processing memories by reading a book or studying for exams occurs when the individual is eager to retain that information, which can make it difficult to determine if it’s organic or artificial. To find out, the study authors sought out 73 volunteers to look at images of various objects. One half of the group was given one cup of coffee – “CBC News” notes that some were consuming 100 and 300 milligrams – while the second half was provided with a placebo.

One day later, the volunteers came back and were given some of the same images with a mix of new ones. The researchers said that both groups did quite well, but the group with caffeine were much sharper at recognizing the images and noticing the differences, like a basket with two handles rather than one and a rubber duck with different characteristics.

After this, and saliva samples taken one, three and 24 hours later, it was concluded that caffeine has a tremendous effect on the hippocampus, the region of the brain that differentiates between patterns and utilizes both short- and long-term memory capabilities.

“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,” said Michael Yassa, lead study author, notes Mother Nature Network. “We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.”

Although this verifies another benefit of consuming coffee (or caffeine) in moderation, Yassa warns that too much consumption can come with negative effects, such as anxiety, headaches, increased blood pressure and a faster heart rate.

“The bottom line when it comes to coffee and caffeine intake is that they definitely have their perks, but for some they can have their perils, too,” Elisa Zied, a registered dietitian, told “USA Today.” “Studies on the possible health benefits related to coffee/caffeine intake will continue to emerge, so no one study should dictate a personal decision to include or exclude it from their diet.”

Over the years, scientific studies have listed the various benefits of drinking coffee. “Huffington Post” compiled a list of reasons why everyone should be drinking coffee each day, including antioxidants, to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, great benefit for one’s liver, improvement of the health of the brain, enhancement of intelligence and to decrease stress levels by simply smelling a cup of coffee.