Caffeine exerts positive effects on cognitive and behavioral processes, especially in sub-optimal conditions when arousal is low. Apart from caffeine, coffee contains other compounds including the phenolic compounds ferulic acid, caffeic acid, and the chlorogenic acids, which have purported antioxidant properties. The chlorogenic acids are the most abundant family of compounds found in coffee, yet their effects on cognition and mood have not been investigated.
This study aims to ascertain whether a coffee rich in chlorogenic acid modulates brain function.
The present pilot study examined the acute effects of decaffeinated coffee with regular chlorogenic acid content and decaffeinated coffee with high chlorogenic acid content on mood and cognitive processes, as measured by behavioral tasks and event-related potentials (ERPs). Performance and ERP responses to a battery of cognitive tasks were recorded at baseline and following the equivalent of three cups of coffee in a randomized, double-blind, crossover study of 39 healthy older participants.
Compared with the decaffeinated coffee with regular chlorogenic acid and placebo, caffeinated coffee showed a robust positive effect on higher-level mood and attention processes. To a lesser extent, the decaffeinated coffee high in chlorogenic acid also improved some mood and behavioral measures, relative to regular decaffeinated coffee.
Our pilot results suggest that non-caffeine compounds in coffee such as the chlorogenic acids may be capable of exerting some acute behavioral effects, thus warranting further investigation.