In the past, researchers thought they had proved that coffee doesn’t improve memory. Turns out, coffee can improve your memory. But you have to drink it at the right time.
Experiments on coffee drinkers have traditionally focused on how well people perform on memory tasks after having a cup or two of coffee. And the scientists found zilch. But researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that if you drink coffee (or some other caffeinated beverage) after a memory task, not necessarily before, it does, in fact, strengthen memory.
“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans,” says researcher Michael Yassa.
The new wrinkle in Yassa’s research is the fact that his team of scientists administered 200 milligrams of caffeine to people five minutes after they studied and began to memorize a series of images. (That’s the amount of caffeine found in about two cups of coffee.)
“Almost all prior studies administered caffeine before the study session, so if there is an enhancement, it’s not clear if it’s due to caffeine’s effects on attention, vigilance, focus or other factors. By administering caffeine after the experiment, we rule out all of these effects and make sure that if there is an enhancement, it’s due to memory and nothing else,” said Yassa.