Better brain: Coffee may enhance long term memory

Many of us can't get by without our daily cup of coffee. There's yet more great news for us coffee drinkers, a study recently published in Nature Neuroscience shows that caffeine can enhance your memory 24 hours after consumption. While this may not appear to be that long, but most memories are lost within the first few hours after learning. But before you start downing several coffees, the level of effective caffeine for this effect was 200mg with no enhanced effect at 300mg. This is equivalent to a strong double espresso or a mug of filter coffee.

This is the first detailed study on the effects of caffeine on long term memory, so there is still much research to do on this, especially the impact on the hippocampus, the memory centre of the brain. What's interesting about this study is that the caffeine tablets were taken 5 minutes AFTER studying a series of images. Since this study investigated the affect of tablets, it would be interesting to see if this effect was repeated or enhanced by igesting the same amount of caffeine in coffee. So if you've got an exam coming up, or maybe learning a new language, have an espresso afterwards and see if this improves your ability to retain information. Here is a great video with the principal investigator of the study, Dr Michael Yassa

Other benefits of coffee

Can improve mood and cognitive function (1)

Improves physical performance(2)

Coffee is not just caffeine, it also contents vitamins B2 and B5, in addition to small amounts of magnesium and potassium. One cup of coffee contains 11% of your vitamin B5 daily allowance

Do not to have too much

There are many benefits to coffee and caffeine, but like many substances we take into our body, it's all about the dose. Too much can be detrimental.

A large analysis by the University of South Carolina, found people who drank more than 28 cups of coffee a week (4 a day) had greater chance of a cardiovascular event , like a heart attack, or all cause mortality (3)

Too much, around 600mg, can lead to anxiety, fast heartbeat, irritable stomach. Those with IBS should limit their caffeine intake

The half life ( the time taken for half caffeine in your blood to be eliminated) is 5-6 hours. Therefore coffee after 5pm can cause sleep problems, and in some circumstances insomnia.

How does your brain respond to coffee, I set up an mini experiment with Quantified Mind to track your cognition before and after coffee.

How do you respond?