Coffee and the mind
Many research studies have examined how coffee affects the brain and its functions. The potential effects are mainly related to caffeine, one of the main constituents of coffee.
Coffee and Mental Performance
The caffeine in coffee acts as a mild stimulant to the central nervous system. Studies have shown that, depending on level of intake, caffeine can help to improve mental performance, especially on alertness, attention and concentration.
- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that a cause and effect relationship between improved alertness and attention and 75mg caffeine (the amount in a regular cup of coffee) had been established.
- Caffeine can improve wakefulness in situations of reduced alertness or lack of sleep, for example; night-time driving, working at night, suffering from a cold and during the post-lunch dip.
- In a sample of people under 40, a study found that caffeine or coffee may be effective in improving performance in those suffering from jet lag or shift work sleep disorder.
- Some studies have shown that caffeine may enhance memory performance, particularly when tedious, repetitive tasks are involved. However, higher intake may decrease performance, possibly due to over-stimulation.