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There are multiple theories that propose a connection between caffeine and memory. It has been proven that caffeine does have an effect on short term memory, due to the temporary increase in concentration it promotes. Preliminary animal studies have shown that regular consumption of caffeine may also have a long term effect on the memory of people with Alzheimer’s.
Caffeine has a direct effect on brain function. It stimulates brain areas that cover short-term memory and attention. Caffeine causes the blood vessels in the brain to constrict and boost metabolism. This sends energy to the brain, though it also lowers the amount of oxygen traveling to the heart. It increases brain activity in the frontal lobe, the location of memory and the anterior cingulum that is responsible for attention.
The most established connection between caffeine and memory is the temporary boost it gives to the short term memory. The neurons in the brain work faster when affected by caffeine, this causes a chain reaction that leads to mental alertness. A boost from the stimulant caffeine allows for better concentration and consequently, better recall of information.
The beneficial connection between caffeine and memory lasts about three to five hours. The effect of the larger amount of information retained during that period can have a long term effect. In addition to heightening the senses, caffeine has helped people to achieve higher scores on tests and to make better decisions in stressful situations due to better retention of important details.
Caffeine also boosts dopamine, a chemical that is connected with feelings of well-being. A positive state of mind reduces stress and allows the body to relax, thus improving overall functioning of organs such as the brain. This effect is most profound for lighter caffeine users.
Several animal studies about the connection between caffeine and memory in Alzheimer’s patients have been made. These studies revealed that regular intake of caffeine over an extended period could help to prevent neural degeneration. They proposed that caffeine could have a preventative effect on the deterioration of memory.
In these studies the connection between caffeine and memory was that of preserving rather than boosting brain function. The memory benefits found in these studies were connected to moderate, regular use of caffeine—the equivalent of four servings a day for humans. Consumption of caffeine protected against the neuron-thickening effect of cholesterol and the inception of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in lab animals.