New findings presented by Austrian researchers at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago on Friday say that caffeine has the ability to boost short-term memory since it stimulates the areas in the brain that control this activity.
Caffeine is normally found in acceptable quantities in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate. The researchers tested 15 subjects who had just consumed the amount of caffeine equivalent to two cups of coffee by performing Functional magnetic resonance imaging scans. They found increased activity in the frontal lobe of the brain. It is this area that is associated with working memory. The researchers also found increased activity in another area called the anterior cingulum, which is responsible for the attention span of the individual. Several participants were asked to forego caffeine for 12 hours and nicotine, found in cigarettes, for four hours. Smoking in moderation is another activity that is thought to stimulate the brain. They were then tested for a sequence of letters. It was found that they were able to remember this sequence better after consuming 100 milligrams of caffeine. "We are able to see that caffeine exerts increases in neuronal activity in distinct parts of the brain going along with changes in behavior," said lead Austrian researcher Dr Florian Koppelstatter of the Medical University Innsbruck.
Caffeine is the best known stimulant that is used on a large scale across the globe. The average consumption equates to about 76 milligrams of one and a half cups of coffee per day. The United States average is 238 milligrams or 41/2 cups of coffee everyday.