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Free «The Effect of Caffeine on Memory» Essay Sample

Introduction  

The objective of the research is to determine the effect of caffeine on memory. To determine the effects of caffeine consumption on memory, data was collected by reviewing existing journal articles about the topic and looking for other resources to support existing data. Based on reviewed journal articles, the effect of caffeine on memory depends on various factors including the amount of caffeine consumed, the frequency by which caffeine is consumed, external factors that affect  a human being’s state of mind like stress, the nature of learning or tasks, the demands of the task on cognition and memory, and so on. The findings that were discovered on three journal articles that were sought out to explore the hypothesis also argue that the effects of caffeine on memory are indirect, such that the consumption of caffeine is not the main element that affects memory. However, the effects of caffeine on the sleeping patterns of human beings disrupt sleep and relaxation, which leads to an individual’s loss of focus and concentration.

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Data Collected

In psychological science, the effects of caffeine on memory could be traced to sleep deprivation. Caffeine is known as a stimulant that decreases fatigue and sleepiness and heightens the awareness or alertness of individuals as well as their ability to respond to stimuli (Plotnik & Kouyoumdjian, 2010, p. 178). Feelings of alertness and decreased fatigue and drowsiness prevent people from going to sleep earlier than their usual bedtime. Thus, individuals who consume high levels of caffeine go to sleep late and therefore, are sleep deprived the following. Sleep deprivation, consequently, affects cognitive functions in human beings, specifically their ability to be vigilant, alert, and responsive to external stimuli (Krueger, et al., 2011, p. 33). On memory, however, the effects of caffeine are less. Caffeine consumption does not significant affect memory and the ability of individuals to solve problems or accomplish certain tasks but when an individual consumes high levels of the substance, it prevents the individual from exercising his fine motor skills in an impressive manner and causes various health diseases, including high blood pressure (Krueger et al., 2011, p. 33).

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The same findings were recorded by Cunha and Agostinho (2010) who conducted an experiment determine how caffeine affects memory and cognition with animal models. Cunha and Agostinho (2010) discussed that the most prominent effects of caffeine were most noticeable in other cognitive functions. However, the difference between their study and data obtained from literature about psychological science is that their results proved that caffeine contributes to the enhancement of memory. Memory is enhanced because caffeine elevates awareness, consciousness, and alertness, which then enables individuals to focus on learning or individual tasks. According to Cunha and Agostinho (2010, p. 95), “caffeine restores memory performance in sleep-deprived or aged human individuals.” Moreover, the results of their study revealed that caffeine improves the condition of human beings suffering from some diseases that may affect their memory – diseases such as chronic stress, Parkinson’s disease, and type 2 Diabetes. The effects of caffeine, however, are reversed when models with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) consume caffeine. It appears that when subjects suffering from AD consume high levels of caffeine, the substance worsens their memory. Overall, the study conducted by Cunha and Agostinho (2010) prove that the effects of caffeine depend on certain situations and factors, such that the substance contributes to improved memory for people suffering from specific types of diseases but it worsens memory when individuals with AD consume caffeine.

 
 
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Nehlig (2010), on the other hand, studied the effects of caffeine on cognition to determine whether the substance is a cognitive enhancer. Based on the author’s research, caffeine does not significantly affect cognitive performance and memory, but it occasionally inhibits the learning and memory faculties of human beings. Moreover, the effect of caffeine depends on the nature of tasks. For instance, in learning tasks where individuals are passive learners, caffeine contributes to memory functions. However, in certain tasks when individuals have to be actively involved and where they have to rely heavily on working memory, caffeine hinders their capacity to fulfill their goals. Nehlig (2010) also differentiates the effect of caffeine on short-term and long-term memory. The effects of caffeine is less or non-existent on long-term memory because it is more likely for the substance to affect short-term memory. Nehlig also reviewed other studies conducted on the effect of caffeine on memory and discovered that, like the findings of Cunha and Agostinho (2010), caffeine contributes to the improvement of cognitive functions due to increased sensitivity to external stimulants and heightened awareness.

The study by Koppelstaetter et al. (2007) is about the effect of caffeine on verbal working memory processes by conducting MRI scans. The study involved fifteen right-handed males who consumed caffeine moderately. Before the MRI scans, the participants consumed placebo and 100 mg of caffeine and had to complete verbal working memory tasks. The fMRI signals that were recorded during the tasks revealed that caffeine modulated neural activities in the brain during the memory tasks and that the substance helped the participants to focus their full attention to those tasks. The results of the study conducted by Koppelstaetter et al. (2007) seem to prove that caffeine improves memory. However, since the experiment was done in a controlled environment, the statement that caffeine improves cognitive functions to complete verbal memory tasks only applies to the conditions and stimulants present during the experiment. Further research should be conducted to support the results of the experiment.

Conclusion

Overall, the findings are somewhat consistent, such that all the research studies and the data gathered from literature about psychological science acknowledge the contributions of caffeine to an individual’s attention and awareness. However, psychological science stress the impact of caffeine on memory because of it leads to sleep deprivation. Scientific studies aligned with neurological science, on the other hand, prove that the effect of caffeine depends on various factors such as stress level, an individual’s illnesses, the amount of caffeine consumed, the frequency of consumption, age, and the nature of the task or learning that an individual is doing at the time. The studies also stay consistent that caffeine does not significant affect memory, especially long-term memory. 

   

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