Can drinking coffee improve your memory?
Besides giving you that extra boost to start your day, your morning cup of Joe may help improve your memory too.
According to a new study published this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine enhances some memories for a period of up to 24 hours after it’s been consumed. The study, funded by the U.A. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Science Foundation, consisted of more than 100 young adults who don’t normally drink much caffeine. They were then shown pictures of objects and given either a pill containing 200 milligrams of caffeine—the equivalent of about two cups of coffee—or a placebo.
The next day, the subjects returned with the caffeine having been flushed out of their systems. They were again show pictures of objects and asked to identify if they had seen each the previous day, identified as “old,” or if it was a picture they hadn’t seen before, or “new.” Those who had taken the caffeine were able to identify more pictures they’d seen the day before.
According to study author Michael Yassa, assistant professor of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California Irvine, previously with Johns Hopkins University, the goal of the study was to confirm caffeine’s effects on memory.
“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,” Yassa says in a release from Johns Hopkins. “On caffeine, the participants were more likely to identify the similar items correctly as similar and not old.”
Dr. Timothy Mikesell, neurologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, says the research is interesting, but may not be necessarily applicable to treatment of larger memory issues and conditions, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“I know caffeine helps my memory,” Dr. Mikesell says. “It’s a start to discovering what drugs may help memory. But there would have to be a lot more research to discover any real medical benefit for patients.”
However, the study results may be one more reason to keep up on your morning java, he says. According to other recent research, caffeine can help improve your heart health and help protect your liver.
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