Caffeine could give people a memory boost

Caffeine could give people a memory boost

A daily dose of caffeine can boost a person's memory, a study conducted in the US has found.

Published in the Nature Neuroscience journal, the John Hopkins University study tested 160 people over the course of 24 hours.

Half of the group were given caffeine tablets, while the remainder were prescribed a placebo before memory tests were carried out.

Those given caffeine performed significantly better when asked to recall a serious of images shown to them earlier.

Researchers pointed out that while 24 hours does not seem like a long time to test memories, most "forgetting" occurs within the first few hours of a person being taught something.

Professor Michael Yassa, who led the research, said: "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."

While this study suggests that caffeine improves a person's ability to recall items and incidents in the short-term, previous research has found that it has little effect on long-term memory.

This suggest that regular consumption of beverages such as coffee is of little benefit to people diagnosed with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease.

Indeed, Dr Ashok Jansari, from the University of East London's school of psychology, said caffeine appears to temporarily sharpen memory rather than improve it.

He added that he would not advise people to increase their in-take of caffeine because quantities over 200mg can have negative effects on the body, such as jitteriness, anxiety and insomnia.

While caffeine's improvement of memory appears to be short-lived, a study conducted by the Mayo Clinc in Rochester, Minnesota last year found that drinking coffee each day can significantly lower a person's chances of developing liver disease.

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