The Coffee Experience Enhances Brain Readiness


For many people, the day doesn't start until the coffee cup is empty.

Coffee is often thought to make you feel more alert, so people drink it to wake up and improve their efficiency.

Portuguese scientists have studied whether this wakefulness effect depends on the properties of caffeine or whether it is the experience of drinking coffee. The scientists found that the stimulus you get from a morning coffee cannot be replicated by caffeine alone.

The scientists selected people who drank at least one cup of coffee a day and asked them to refrain from eating or drinking caffeinated beverages for at least three hours before the study.

They interviewed the participants to collect socio-demographic data and then performed two brief functional magnetic resonance imaging scans: one before and one 30 minutes after drinking caffeine or drinking a standard cup of coffee.

Drinking coffee increases alertness and prepares people to switch from sleep to task mode more than simple caffeine consumption.

The researchers found that coffee consumption decreased the connectivity of the brain's default mode network, which is involved in introspection, signalling readiness to switch to tasks.

However, coffee consumption also increased the connectivity of the higher visual network and the right executive control network, elements involved in working memory and cognitive control.

This increased connectivity did not occur with caffeine alone, suggesting that the full coffee experience, not just caffeine, helps improve alertness and cognitive readiness.

Source: Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience