Scientists have found that by giving a 200mg caffeine pill, which is the equivalent of a strong cup of coffee to people after a learning session improved image recall.
Researchers carried out a double-blind trial in which participants who are not regular consumers of caffeinated products were given either a placebo or the caffeine tablet five minutes after studying a series of images.
Saliva samples were taken beforehand to measure their caffeine levels and again one, three and 24 hours afterwards.
The following day both groups were shown the same images again, along with similar and random new ones. The results showed that while both groups could identify the pictures as old or new, those who had taken the caffeine pill were better at spotting the ‘similar’ alternatives.
Michael Yassa, co-author of the research and assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University, stated that the study showed caffeine “enhanced consolidation of long-term memories”.
“We have always known 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. We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours,’ he said in the report which was published by the journal Nature Neuroscience.
“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 enhanced by caffeine.”
The caffeine-induced improvement however, was not seen with smaller doses of caffeine or when it was given an hour before viewing the images.
Perhaps as a result of the findings employers should consider carrying out learning sessions just prior to morning and afternoon tea – it may just help the information sink in.
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