comScore A Study Shows Caffeine Helps Form Memories | The Mary Sue

Bottoms Up! Study Shows Your Morning Coffee May Boost Your Memory

That's pretty good in addition to boosting our ability to behave like normal humans.



In a recent study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers found that participants who consumed the amount of caffeine equivalent to two shots of espresso formed better long-term memories than those who consumed more or none at all. So just hit that two-espresso sweet spot, and you can pass off your coffee addiction as a memory supplement.

Those who participated in the study were shown a series of images before swallowing either a caffeine or placebo pill, and 24 hours later, they were asked to review a separate set of images and pick out which were old, which were new, and which were similar. Participants who had taken the caffeine performed the same in identifying old and new images, but they excelled over the placebo group in identifying similar images.

According to Michael Yassa of the University of California, Irvine who ran the study, identifying similar but not exact images is a much harder task, and it shows that the caffeine-consuming group’s memories consolidated better than those who didn’t have any caffeine.

It didn’t, however, help with retrieving memories. The caffeine only helped if taken around the time the memories were formed, so no matter how much coffee you drink in the morning, you still won’t remember why you woke up wearing your pants on your head after that party last night.

As with most things, moderation is still best, and consuming more caffeine than the 200 milligrams that produced the memory improvements actually caused the effect to diminish. So, don’t drink a whole bunch of coffee in an attempt to gain powers of total recall. You’ll probably just wind up as some kind of jittery, fast-talking coffee monster.

The results of the study were exciting for Geraldine Wright of Newcastle University, who got similar results in a study with bees last year and was glad to see that it worked in humans, as well. Actually, we’d prefer if the memory improvement research could stick with humans going forward, because we’d prefer if bees forgot about us as quickly as possible. We really don’t need any vengeful bees.

(via Gizmodo, image via @Doug88888)

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Dan is a video game modding hobbyist and secret ninja who lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa Brown, and his dog, Liz Lemon, both of whom are the best.