Study: Caffeine Helps You Recall More Details

January 14, 2014

A little caffeine may give your memory a jump-start, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience. Researchers found that giving people caffeine after they memorized a series of pictures significantly increased their ability to recall subtler details than people who had only received placebo pills. 

However, don’t overdo it, researchers say. A 200-milligram dose of caffeine — about the equivalent of a large cup of coffee — was the only amount that helped people better recall the pictures. Any more caffeine than that actually could be a distraction from memory and make people more jittery and agitated. 

To test the effects of caffeine, researchers gave a caffeine pill or a placebo pill to participants who were given a memory task. Twenty-four hours later, when the caffeine was fully out of the participants’ systems, they were asked to determine which pictures in a new set had been shown the day before. Some of the new pictures were similar but not identical to the older ones, so participants had to recall a certain amount of detail in the pictures. 

Participants who had been given caffeine were much better at recalling the pictures than those who received no caffeine, the researchers found. 

“We’ve always known that caffeine has cognitive-enhancing effects, but its particular effects on strengthening memories and making them resistant to forgetting has never been examined in detail in humans,” study author Michael Yassa told “We report for the first time a specific effect of caffeine on reducing forgetting over 24 hours.”

Source: “How A Little Caffeine Can Boost Your Memory,” Forbes (Jan. 13, 2014)

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