Imagine a day when a pill will help you remember things. An American study has raised the possibility one day we may bank upon caffeine to boost our memory as well as to wake up.
Under the research, memories of 160 participants were tested over a period of 24 hours. The result stated that those who took caffeine tablets, rather than dummy pills, came better on the memory test.
The Johns Hopkins University study involved people who did not regularly eat or drink caffeinated products.
Saliva samples were taken, to check base levels of caffeine, and then participants were asked to look at a series of images.
Five minutes later they were given either a 200-milligram caffeine tablet - equivalent to the caffeine in a large cup of coffee, according to the researchers - or a dummy pill.
Saliva samples were taken again one, three and 24 hours later. More members of the caffeine group were able to correctly identify "similar" images, rather than wrongly saying they were the same.
Prof Michael Yassa, who led the study, 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."
But Prof Yassa said their findings do not mean people should rush out and drink lots of coffee, eat lots of chocolate - or take lots of caffeine pills.
However, experts warned people to remember caffeine could cause negative effects, such as jitteriness and anxiety.
"Everything in moderation. Our study suggests that 200mg of coffee is beneficial to those who do not regularly ingest caffeine.
"But we also show an inverted U-shape dose response suggesting that higher doses may not be as beneficial.
"Keep in mind that if you're a regular caffeine drinker this amount may change."
He added: "There are of course health risks to be aware of.
"Caffeine can have side effects like jitteriness and anxiety in some people. The benefits have to be weighed against the risks."
The study was publishes in Nature Neuroscience.
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