Does caffeine improve study? : An examination of alertness, sustained attention and working memory with and without caffeine
Due date: 21/09/2012
Student name: Jesse Minshall
Student ID: 23640758
Word count: 756
Does caffeine provide benefits in studying?
Caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine) is classified as a mild stimulant and is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world today (Koppelstaetter et al., 2010). It is found in many plant-based foods but is most commonly ingested in the form of tea and coffee (Ruxton, 2008). Additionally caffeine is comprised as an active ingredient in cola, chocolate, health food products such as guarana tablets, energy bars and drinks, over the counter and prescription medications (Nawrot et al., 2003) and even recently in chips.
Although there is considerable variation in caffeine concentration depending on method of preparation, a cup of coffee supplies approximately 100mg of caffeine while tea provides 50mg of caffeine on average (Julien et al., 2008). Of people who habitually consume caffeine, the daily average intake is 200 - 500mg, which is ingested in approximately 50 - 100mg doses across the course of a day (Brice & Smith, 2002).
Once ingested caffeine is rapidly absorbed across the wall of the gastrointestinal tract with plasma concentration levels peaking 60 to 90 minutes after ingestion (Julien et al., 2008). The psychostimulant effects of caffeine (which include improved psychomotor and cognitive performance) have long been documented with a number of neurotransmitters affected by caffeine intake (Fredholm et al., 1999). It is thought, however, that the primary cause of the increase in CNS activity is due to caffeine's structural similarity to the inhibitory neurotransmitter, adenosine. Thus caffeine is able to bind to adenosine receptor sites lessening its inhibitory effect on the CNS (Smith, 2002; Ruxton, 2008).