Effect of Caffeine on Cognitive Functions

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Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world that has many variations from classic espresso to Irish coffee with whiskey. Some people are true coffee lovers, while others cannot stand this bitter taste of the beverage, but everyone knows about its bracing qualities. However, there is not only coffee that contains caffeine through which people can stay awake in the early hours of morning. Tea, chocolate or energy drinks can be used as a substitute for a pot of the bitter liquid. Meanwhile, caffeine has not only stimulating qualities, but also many others. That is why the modern science carefully examines its impact on human brain and organism.

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Caffeine is an alkaloid, which contains in plant seeds and leaves. Its stimulating affects cause the increasing of mental functions and physical abilities, together with the decreasing of weariness and drowsiness. The alkaloid directly impacts the central nervous system and blocks central and peripheral adenosine receptors in brain. This is exactly why people feel more alert after coffee. But besides obvious effect on human’s organism, which is a burst of energy, there are some less evident benefits and side effects of caffeine.

In addition to impact on the central nervous system, caffeine also influences on the sympathetic one and elevates adrenaline levels. Adrenaline, for its part, stimulates blood circulation and has a catalytic effect on central nervous system. Meanwhile, caffeine makes people feel happier with regard to its ability to enhance the transmission of dopamine, which is responsible for sensation of pleasure. This is how a psychological addiction to caffeine emerges.

In fact, most experts do not believe that caffeine causes addiction like drugs but if a person stops drinking coffee abruptly, some symptoms including headache, exhaustion and decreased concentration appear after this. Usually these symptoms do not emerge all at once and stop after a while.

However, according to the research at the Mayo Clinic, consuming caffeine more than 400 mg per day can adversely affect the wellbeing, including such symptoms as anxiety, insomnia, petulance, migraine, a fast heartbeat and even indigestion and tremors. Indeed, it is not just about the dose, but also individual caffeine intolerance. Some people can drink several cups of coffee per day and still feel as usual, while others have to face unpleasant consequences, such as jumpiness even after consuming a small dose of caffeine.

Nevertheless, there are some undeniable positive effects of caffeine on the brain. First of all, in conformity with the study from the Harvard School of Public Health, a small dose of caffeine may lessen a risk of adult suicide and recent studies confirm that it can enhance the long-term memory. A couple of years ago there were held a number of experiments, during which a number of volunteers had been divided into groups that received a 200-mg dose of caffeine or a placebo instead. As a result, the group that received caffeine showed better results in cognitive and mood tests than the placebo group. Furthermore, most studies show that caffeine consumption can increase vigilance, reaction time and short-term memory. According to this information, caffeine can be regarded as an enhancer for the brain as well as for the body.

Taking everything into account, caffeine is not a panacea and not a poison. It has both negative and positive impacts on human health, and some individuals can react to it differently, including unpleasant symptoms. Consuming caffeine in small doses, not more than 200 mg per day is beneficial for cognitive functions and physical health. In order to avoid caffeine addiction, it is better to take it wisely and moderately.

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