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A Little Caffeine Could Boost Memory

Researchers say consuming some caffeine after a task helps boost memory in people who aren\'t used to it.
Posted at 4:31 PM, Jan 13, 2014

​Drink up, coffee enthusiasts! Research shows caffeine might be good for your memory.

A Johns Hopkins study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found individuals given a little caffeine memorized a series of pictures better than those given placebo pills. (Via Nature, YouTube / Stefan Hoppe)

One of the study’s authors says that although we’ve always known of caffeine’s cognitive effects, “its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans.” (Via Johns Hopkins University)

The researchers studied people who did not regularly consume caffeine, and they were told to memorize a series of pictures. Then they were given either a caffeine pill or a placebo.

Twenty-four hours later, they were asked to determine which pictures had been shown to them. The catch — the new set contained images similar to the previous images but not identical. (Via YouTube / Johns Hopkins)

But before you go and get hyped up on shots of espresso, the researchers suggest the memory-boosting capabilities might only work in 200-milligram caffeine dosages — the equivalent to a large cup of coffee. (Via Detroit Free Press)

A key aspect of the study is also when the caffeine was consumed — after the memory task, not before. This ensures other caffeine side effects, such as attention or energy, are not what’s driving the memorization. (Via Forbes)

In another recent, but separate coffee-related study, researchers also determined the caffeinated beverage doesn't cause dehydration as previously believed. Researchers found no difference in hydration levels between individuals who drank coffee and those who drank water. (Via ABC)

The researchers say their next step is to examine how caffeine works and determine why it boosts memory.