The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Caffeine-aholics gain brain use

By Lindsey Bever/editor-in-chief

Good news for coffee drinkers and other caffeine addicts—the world’s most consumed stimulant can fuel the brain’s short-term memory and boost attention.

According to the Radiological Society of North America, the United States alone consumes 238 milligrams of caffeine a day, which in my opinion, is equivalent to four and a half Caramel Macchiatos from Starbucks. Sadly, the international total tops out at 76 milligrams of daily caffeine.

Apparently, the health nuts that have vowed to abstain from caffeine are few and far between, especially in the United States. I’m not concerned that caffeine might stunt my growth as long as it will relieve pain, cure headaches, treat the common cold, keep me wired and improve my memory. Besides, I’m content with my height.

Dr. Dwayne Jackson said caffeine prevents mental and physical fatigue by blocking receptors that notify the brain of low energy levels. Sounds like a quick fix when pulling an all-nighter.

Austrian researchers studied 15 coffee-craving subjects and found that just two cups of java increased frontal lobe activity, which encompasses working memory and the anterior cingulum that powers attention. Researchers also found that caffeine improved reaction time of short-term memory during testing. However, the stimulant is useless for comprehensive testing tapping long-term memory.

Some researchers disagree, saying while caffeine enhances short-term memory, it does so only when the information is related to one’s current train of thought.

Nevertheless, those who participated in the study found it easier to memorize a series of letters after putting down 100 milligrams of caffeine than after 12 hours without caffeine or four hours without nicotine—keep that in mind when finals roll around. Well, nix the nicotine … I like my lungs.

Dr. Florian Koppelstatter, Austrian researcher with the Medical University Innsbruck, said, “We are able to see that caffeine exerts increases in neuronal activity in distinct parts of the brain going along with changes in behavior.”

In other words, ingesting your favorite Tazo tea, Dr Pepper, Red Bull, Hershey’s bar or Starbucks could make you smarter, at least until it wears off. That’s a diet I’m willing to try.

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