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Coffee, attention, memory and mood: from the brain to the workplace

Smith, Andrew Paul ORCID: 2004. Coffee, attention, memory and mood: from the brain to the workplace. Presented at: International Seminar on Coffee and Health, Cartagena, Colombia, 15 September 2003. Published in: Illy, Ernesto and Pizano, Dieo eds. Coffee and health: new research findings. ICO, pp. 31-40.

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Coffee is a major source of caffeine, which has been shown to have a number of behavioural effects. For example, caffeine increases alertness, improves sustained attention and psychomotor performance. These beneficial effects often increase with dose (within the limits consumed by the majority of the population). Caffeine has less effect on memory but has recently been shown to improve retrieval from general knowledge and the ability to think logically. Improvements following ingestion of caffeinated coffee are most easily observed when alertness is low (e.g. after sleep deprivation; in the early morning; after lunch; when performing at night; after prolonged work; when the person has a minor illness such as the common cold). Caffeine influences many neurotransmitter systems and the beneficial effects seen in low arousal contexts probably reflect its effects on central noradrenaline. Other effects, such as the increased speed of encoding new information after caffeine, reflect changes in other neurotransmitter systems (e.g. the cholinergic system). It has been suggested that the positive effects of caffeine merely reflect removal of negative effects of withdrawal. This is unlikely as effects can be demonstrated in non-consumers and also consumers who have not had caffeine withdrawn. The beneficial effects of caffeine can be demonstrated using realistic consumption patterns. Similarly, simulations of real-life activities (e.g.driving) show improved performance after caffeine. Furthermore, recent epidemiological analyses suggest that those with above average intake of caffeine report fewer errors at work and are involved in fewer accidents. Overall, these findings suggest that the levels of caffeine in coffee consumed by most people have largely beneficial effects on behaviour.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: Proceedings of the International Seminar on Coffee and Health, 40th Anniversary meeting of the International Coffe Organization, Cartagena, Colombia, 15 September 2003
Publisher: ICO
ISBN: 9589721893
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 10:03

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