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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Caffeine Increases Ability To Recognize Positive Words

November 8, 2012
Image Credit: Photos.com

Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

As any coffee drinker will tell you, the day immediately begins to feel better after taking that first earthy, faintly bitter sip o´ joe from the edge of a steaming cup.

A new study from German researchers reinforces the positive aura swirling around the magical brown elixir as they have shown that caffeine can increase a person´s ability and speed in recognizing words with a positive connotation. The study also shows that the stimulant had no effect on recognizing words with negative or neutral connotations, like ℠wall´ or ℠table´.

Previous studies have shown that a normal dose of caffeine boosts performance on straightforward cognitive tasks and behavioral responses. Other studies have shown some memories are enhanced when strong emotions are associated with specific trigger objects, but there has been no clinical link between caffeinated performance and emotional triggers.

To examine this potential link, the researchers recruited 66 people between 19 and 32 years old. Each participant was given either 200 mg of caffeine or a placebo and then seated in front of an LCD monitor where they were presented with uppercase letter strings for 150 microseconds at a time. They were instructed to decide as quickly and accurately as possible if the presented letter string was a German word or not. Participants pressed the left mouse button to signal that it was a word and the right mouse button to signal it was not.

The results showed that those participants who were given the caffeine were able to process the positive words more quickly and accurately. This was likely the result of the well-documented link between caffeine intake and dopaminergic transmission, of the effects of dopamine on the language-dominant regions of the brain.

“Caffeine is a psychoactive substance that in low doses blocks the inhibitory adenosine receptors in the brain, thereby functioning as an adenosine antagonist,” the scientists wrote. “This antagonist behavior leads to an increase in central nervous activity most probably via an increased dopaminergic transmission due to multiple interactions with dopamine receptors in dopamine-rich brain regions”

This latest study, from researchers at Ruhr University, can be filed under pro-caffeine as the legal stimulant seems to constantly be on the receiving end of conflicting clinical studies. Previous research has shown that too much caffeine can lead to sleep problems, high blood pressure, and addiction.

Caffeinated energy drinks have even been implicated in death as the FDA has recently disclosed that it has received reports about five deaths since 2009 may be linked to Monster Energy drinks. This has led to further investigation and calls for scrutiny of the caffeinated beverage industry.

Despite those grim reports, many studies have shown some benefit to moderate caffeine intake. A 2007 study found that coffee drinkers might even reduce their chances of dying from heart disease. Another study found drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer. In that study of nearly 50,000 men, those who drank coffee the most were found to have a 60 percent lower risk than those who did not.


Source: Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online