back to article Coffee a memory enhancing drug, say boffins

That staple of the IT industry everywhere, caffeine, is an aid to long-term memory, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. In their study (abstract in Nature Neuroscience here), the researchers claim that theirs is the first study to demonstrate that caffeine has a direct impact on long-term memory. The …


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    1. Richard 81

      "Sick people. 10 different studies can be done 10 different ways to prove or contradict this."

      Unless it was a good scientific study, in which case you can believe the findings. I can't tell you if it was a good one without buying the paper.

      "Someone wants to sell more coffee."

      Not according to the author affiliations. Of course the research could have been funded by Nestle, but that should be made clear in the "Competing financial interests" bit.

    2. Moosh

      Coffee's positive effects on memory have been known for a long time.

      It's also great for losing weight and helps you get the most out of workouts. People who cycle supplements with their workouts often include caffeine pills in the cycle.

      As if coffee needs any more hype than it has.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Coffee is coffee. Nectar of the Gawd/esses.

    Any added benefit is just gravy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Coffee is coffee. Nectar of the Gawd/esses.

      Once you've gone to the effort of training the civets to stuff hot coals up their bums so they can roast and grind each bean as it passes then yeah, it's pretty good.

      I wouldn't want gravy in it though.

  3. Mondo the Magnificent
    Thumb Up


    I had coffee at 08h00 and I have just reminded myself it's time to make some more coffee...


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't drink coffee

    Or do I? I can't remember

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    I drink coffee

    But I'm darned if I can remember why I put my cup?

    1. tony2heads

      Re: I drink coffee

      use your nose - follow the delicious aroma ....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think someone needs a coffee.

    From the article...

    That staple of the IT industry everywhere, caffeine, is an aid to short-term memory, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University.

    In their study (abstract in Nature Neuroscience here), the researchers claim that theirs is the first study to demonstrate that caffeine has a direct impact on long-term memory.

    So is it short or long term memory?

    1. Mark Simon

      Re: I think someone needs a coffee.

      … can’t remember …

    2. Britt Johnston
      Thumb Up

      Re: Short term or long term?

      It is about more reliable transfer of information from short-term memory into long-term memory.

      So if you had a tough meeting, and you want to write it all up while it's fresh, a coffee after the meeting should help with the recall.

      Interestingly, the study write-up appears in Google under Healthcare, not under Science.

  7. Khaptain Silver badge

    I go through phases of drinking gallons of the stuff per day and others where I drink almost none.

    Result : my memory is still a shambles whether I drink coffee or not.

    I wonder who the sponsor behind this message really was ?

    1. Richard 81

      A statistically significant improvement in a good-sized sample group won't help you if your memory is crap anyway. It might be a tiny bit less crap, but are you likely to notice?

    2. Marshalltown


      The Mormons and the Seventh Day Adventists have sponsored a great deal of research to show that caffeine is bad for you. The bias was doctrinal (neither group uses caffeine because their understanding of their founders instructions was to avoid caffeine (coffee AND tea), though "Mormon tea" contains ephedra. The studies were often "justified" by the observation that coffee was addictive, caused jitters and heart palpitations in the extremely wired, and headaches for those enduring withdrawal. The puritanical reasoning was that "it's a drug (and the drinkers really enjoy it), therefore it MUST be bad for you."

      The rebuttal research was often funded by coffee industry money and by folks who really wanted their morning coffee (or tea). But their initial views were often more or less summarized as, "caffeine isn't 'that' addictive, so it really isn't a strong drug, and its more harmless than alcohol." They were largely hoping for a "mostly harmless" finding. So, the discovery that there really did appear to be benefits to coffee and tea were actually a surprise to both groups. You will note that the wikipedia entry is considerably more negative in the initial paragraphs, but then is described as mostly harmless - even pregnant women can consume up to two cups a day of a drug that is labeled as both a teratogen and a mutagen. So, clearly the debate goes on.

      The irony is that while the evidence that caffeine is harmful to individuals is mostly absent, socially it has been considered a threat for several centuries. It has been outlawed far more often than any other drug until the drug wars of the last century.

  8. MJI Silver badge

    More important drink in the UK

    What about the effects of tea?

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: More important drink in the UK

      Can't be too bad, given that tea also contains caffeine. I do not drink coffee, unless the alternatives are on a par with the poetry of the Azgoths of Kria (i.e. to me coffee is worse than Vogon poetry). Last time I drank coffee was 1986, around Xmas. It was Italian coffee, which according to all others present was excellent coffee, so apparently coffee is just NOT my thing. I do drink gallons of tea (Olympic swimming pools?) and apparently have very good memory (anecdotal evidence of course, I know).

      The positive memory effects of tea and coffee can of course be negated by that other favourite drink, depicted above

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: More important drink in the UK

        I like the alcoholics too, and like you cannot touch coffee

      2. Colin Millar

        Re: More important drink in the UK - Italian coffee?

        @ Michael

        Italian? - no wonder you didn't like it - that bland piss is the PG tips of coffee.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          Re: More important drink in the UK - Italian coffee?

          Come and say that to my Italian PhD student (or my missus for that matter), you might get a response as depicted in the icon. ;-)

          Curiously, people say I make very good coffee, but I will still opt for my tea (Keemun black for preference, or a good Assam or Darjeeling).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More important drink in the UK - Italian coffee?

          Don't tell me - you drink Starbucks.

  9. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    due to the effects of err ... erm wotsit on my heart, I'm not allowed to partake in drinking thingy, er yeah thats it, what was I saying? nice weather today, shame I have to goto work. I think.

    1. Jim Wilkinson

      Re: Sadly too

      The medics requested I desist drinking coffee as it was contributing to my heart flutter. I managed to negotiate 1 mug a day. It's great stuff, but too much can allegedly affect some folks adversely. A quick search of recent literature ( - other sources also available) suggests that a daily cup or 2 might actually help heart function, but drinking 10 or more is asking for trouble.

  10. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Good job I remembered

    not to spend £22 on the article.

  11. Anonymous Coward 101

    "As explained at The Conversation here, a study in PLOSE ONE finds the diuretic effects of caffeine are less than the amount of water you drink with moderate coffee consumption."

    A lot of people will be relieved to discover they didn't die of dehydration several years ago.

  12. phil dude

    its early and...

    It is before dawn and I haven't had any coffee, but I read the paper.

    Here's the thing, you cannot fault their methodology it is quite standard. However, the effect they were trying to measure is quiet subtle. With only 10 subjects in the 200 mg group (quiet a jolt!), and no way of knowing "caffeine history" of subjects, and interviews are...well....

    It is suggestive, but as with most interesting science, making sure it is repeatable in larger and more diverse groups would the way to go...

    I'd participate if Illy paid for the trials...;-)


  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...the most recent science on the stuff debunks the dearly-held myth that coffee causes dehydration..."

    Because it was always likely that drinking a pint or so of water with a small amount of dissolved chemicals would lead to dehydration. Just as living in a strictly dehumidified atmosphere raises the danger of drowning.

    1. Nigel 11

      It is a diuretic ...

      Coffee is a weak diuretic, but who cares? You go to the loo, and then you visit the water fountain to replace the water. A small price to pay for the concentration-enhancing effect of coffee.

      (I've no idea whether it boosts my memory. It certainly gets rid of sleepiness and, to some extent, seasonal blues).

    2. Nigel 11


      Because it was always likely that drinking a pint or so of water with a small amount of dissolved chemicals would lead to dehydration

      Dehydration is misunderstood. Perhaps surpringly, thirst and hunger aren't similar. One experiences hunger once one's body is capable of processing more food. One isn't in danger of physiological distress from lack of food for a day or more after one's last meal. In contrast, thirst is a physiological distress call. You needed to ingest more water a significant time *before* you felt thirsty.

      The best guide is the colour of your pee. Pale straw: sufficiently hydrated. Darker: you aren't ingesting enough water. (Bright yellow: lay off the artificially coloured snacks! ).

      I can assure you that drinking a pint of water laced with a small amount of certain pharmaceuticals will result in a pint of pee within an hour, followed by more pints of pee, and severe dehydration if you don't replace the water. Coffee is in the fourth division compared to a real diuretic drug.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We didn't need a study for this. We know from experience that coffee is good for us. *off to get another mug*

  15. MissingSecurity
    Thumb Up

    They could have told me ...

    ... coffee reduced memory by 50% and I'd still be here sipping and smiling. (We need a coffee Icon)

  16. mark 63 Silver badge

    In other coffee-related bad news - we've only got decaff left in the staff kitchen!


  17. Munchausen's proxy

    I'll repeat a quote from a few years back

    Back in 2010, The Reg's hallowed Page reported that some fules decided coffee had no benefit.

    "Caffeine makes my neurons twinkle" -- Bonnie McCafferty, in the Chicago Tribune.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Coffee is the Devils winnits.

    Fowl stuff

  19. John Tserkezis

    The study is bunk.

    The results are short term, and your brain performance goes back to baseline levels after some time on the stuff.

    Afterwards, going off caffeine will have a short term result of retarded brain performance, till you aclimatise to it, where you eventually go back to your original baseline levels yet again.

    More so, the differences aren't that great. It might *seem* so from your perspective, but only because of the difference over a short period of time. Statistical differences are not so different.

    Abnormally heavy doses can have a worthy result in a number of areas, but again, only in the short term. And then we're talking about the 30+ cups a day region. And not that instant crap either. At that point, you have greater concerns than whether or not you can remember something.

  20. psychonaut

    almost but not quite entirely unlike the right question

    Just dont ask the nutrimatic.

    1. Rukario

      Re: almost but not quite entirely unlike the right question

      Go stick your head in a pig.

  21. Killraven

    More Crap Headlines...

    "See!" says me mum, "Coffee is good for your memory and I've just got back from buying a shipping pallets worth!"

    "But mum!" says I, "the study says that CAFFEINE is beneficial, and you bought decaf coffee because of your heart problems."

    Say's mum: "%$(&*%@ bloggers!"

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good to see someone debunking the diuretic effect myth. As with Colas and alcoholic drinks, yes there is a diuretic effect in action but the volume of fliud intake far outweighs it.

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