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Coffee cravings can play havoc with your memory

30 August 2017

Skipping your morning coffee before a lecture or an important meeting is probably a bad idea, according to new research.

Of course you will be less alert, but more than that, the research team at the University of Tasmania say that the cravings you experience will impair your ability to memorise new information.

Reporting their results in the journal Memory, the researchers also found that their participants were unaware of how caffeine cravings had affected them – suggesting that if we try to learn things when desperate for a coffee we are at risk of being overconfident about what we’ve taken in.

The participants were 55 regular coffee drinkers (average age 30 years) who drank at least one coffee per day and who at least sometimes found themselves thinking about when they will get their next caffeine fix (another 11 participants were excluded because they didn’t describe experiencing these feelings often enough).

The memory challenge was to learn 100 unrelated word pairs, such as POND-BOOK. Following this, the participants were tested on their ability to recall the second word in each pair (given the first word). They were also tested on their recognition memory, which involved selecting the correct second word for each pair from a multiple-choice list of options.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.

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