July 3, 2023


That Essential Morning Coffee May Be a Placebo (Angharad Brewer Gillham, 7/03/23, Frontiers Science News)

The scientists recruited people who drank a minimum of one cup of coffee per 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 sociodemographic data, and then did two brief functional MRI scans: one before and one 30 minutes after either taking caffeine or drinking a standardized cup of coffee. During the functional MRI scans, the participants were asked to relax and let their minds wander.

Because of the known neurochemical effects of drinking coffee, the scientists expected that the functional MRI scans would show that the people who drank coffee had higher integration of networks that are linked to the prefrontal cortex, associated with executive memory, and the default mode network, involved in introspection and self-reflection processes. They found that the connectivity of the default mode network was decreased both after drinking coffee and after taking caffeine, which indicates that consuming either caffeine or coffee made people more prepared to move from resting to working on tasks.

Waking up on the right side of the bed
However, drinking coffee also increased the connectivity in the higher visual network and the right executive control network - parts of the brain which are involved in working memory, cognitive control, and goal-directed behavior. This didn't happen when participants only took caffeine. In other words, if you want to feel not just alert but ready to go, caffeine alone won't do - you need to experience that cup of coffee.

Posted by at July 3, 2023 7:13 PM