Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Coffee and the Brain

Following on from the previous post, another piece of data from MRI that's contributing to the understanding of our brains and our minds. This from New Scientist :
Coffee improves short-term memory and speeds up reaction times by acting on the brain’s prefrontal cortex, according to a new study.

Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine how coffee activates different areas of the brain in 15 volunteers.

“"Caffeine modulates a higher brain function through its effects on distinct areas of the brain",” explains Florian Koppelstoetter, who carried out the research with colleagues at the Medical University at Innsbruck, Austria.
“The group all showed activation of the working memory part of the brain," Koppelstoetter explains. "But those who received caffeine had significantly greater activation in parts of the prefrontal lobe, known as the anterior cingulate and the anterior cingulate gyrus. These areas are involved in 'executive memory', attention, concentration, planning and monitoring."

“This type of memory is used when, for example, you look up a telephone number in a book and then mentally store it before dialling,” he adds.

Koppelstoetter stresses that the study is preliminary and that he has yet to discover how long the memory effects last or what other effects coffee has on brain function. He adds that the long-term impact of caffeine use is also an important consideration.

But he says the study shows that coffee has an effect on specific brain regions involved in memory and concentration that tallies with anecdotal evidence of the drink's “pick-me-up” effect.

Caffeine is known to influence adenosine receptors which are found throughout the brain on nerve cells and blood vessels. It is thought that the drug inhibits these receptors and that this excites the nerve cells in the brain. “This may be the mechanism involved,” suggests Koppelstoetter.

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
It is by the juice of Java that the thoughts acquire speed.
The hands acquire shaking.
The shaking becomes a warning.
It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.

See also The Mentat mantra

(Hat Tip: Fred Kiesche of The Eternal Golden Braid)

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

I found this blog surfing.

The coffee post was interesting. I read your post, drinking a nice French Roast.