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Mental performance incorporates numerous cognitive processes including:
- Memory: the ability to store, retain and recall information and experiences. There are two types of memory; short-term (limited to approximately 4–5 items) and long-term (which can store much larger quantities of information for a potentially unlimited duration).
- Attention: the ability, or power, to concentrate mentally.
- Reaction time: the elapsed time between the initiation of an action and the required response.
- Alertness: being mentally responsive, perceptive and quick.
Did you know that the caffeine in coffee:
- Improves alertness and attention1.
- May improve working memory2. The effect might even be linked to personality3.
- May improve your mood. The anticipation of drinking coffee, as well as actual consumption, plays a part in its mood-boosting effect4.
- Helps limit depression5.
- Has different effects on people depending on a wide range of factors, such as a person’s age6, genetic make-up7, and how often they drink coffee8.
How caffeine works in the brain:
Adenosine is a molecule that has been linked to sleep. Caffeine and adenosine have similar structures, so caffeine can act as an imposter and block the actions of adenosine in the brain, replacing tiredness with feelings of alertness and arousal9.
To learn more, watch our video.
- Schmitt J.A.J. et al. (2005) General methodological considerations for the assessment of nutritional influences on human cognitive functions. Eur J Nutr, 44:459-464.
- Nehlig A. (2010) Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer? J Alzheimers Dis, 20(S1):85-94.
- Smillie L.D. et al. (2010) Caffeine enhances working memory for extraverts. Biol Psychol, 85:496-8.
- Dawkins L. et al. (2011) Expectation of having consumed caffeine can improve performance and mood. Appetite, 57:597-600.
- Grosso G. et al. (2016) Coffee, tea, caffeine and risk of depression: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies. Mol Nutr Food Res, 60(1):223-34.
- Robillard R. et al. (2015) Sleep is more sensitive to high doses of caffeine in the middle years of life. J Psychopharmacol, 29(6):688-97.
- Byrne E.M. et al. (2012) A genome-wide association study of caffeine related sleep disturbance: confirmation of a role for a common variant in the adenosine receptor. Sleep, 35(7):967-75.
- Porkka-Heiskanen T. (2011) Methylxanthines and sleep. Handb Exp Pharmacol, (200):331-48.
- Fredholm B.B. et al. (1999) Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacol Rev, 51:83-133.
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