Does Drinking Coffee Improve Your Memory?

By , Category : Food and Nutrition

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Coffee Can Improve MemoryI think coffee must be one of the most frequently consumed drinks every day worldwide. I know that coffee is an important drink to me and I just love the taste. Where would we be without it?

I think we also can understand that coffee can give us a boost of energy and improve our level of alertness. Did you know that coffee may also be able to boost memory? Recent evidence has indicated that as much as 200 mg of caffeine contained in a single cup of dark roast coffee can boast more than just your energy!

New published research looked at 160 adult subjects who were not regular coffee drinkers and randomized them into two groups. The participants were asked to study a series of images and then after a five-minute interval were given either 200 mg of caffeine in a pill form or a placebo pill. The following day the participants were presented with several sets of images, some of which were identical or similar to the images previously seen. The results of this study indicated that the participants who had previously taken the caffeine pill could recall similar images with greater ease compared to the subjects who had received the placebo.

“We found that those who were administered caffeine actually had better retention of the information we taught them the day before,” said the study author. “The caffeine enhanced their ability to say, ‘This item was similar but not identical to the one I’d seen before.’”

The type of memory tested involved recognizing if the items are similar, identical, or not related and is referred to as “pattern separation.” What makes this type of research interesting is that the caffeine ingested improved the type of memory that requires the brain to make more difficult decisions.

This study is also quite different from others that previously looked at the associations between caffeine intake and cognitive function which provided the caffeine before any of the assigned tasks. In the present study, the participants were given the caffeine after the cognitive exercise, thus eliminating the effects that caffeine could have upon attention span or concentration ability.

Does coffee provide the same effects?

In my opinion, I would say yes, it probably does because the average cup of coffee contains approximately 110-150 mg of caffeine. A few cups are all that is necessary to give you the same dosage of caffeine. Unfortunately, this study did not look at the effects of various dosages of caffeine upon memory performance and if these effects were dose-related.

Coffee is a great source of valuable antioxidants and the caffeine does bind with various sites in the brain which affects memory, concentration, and cognition. However, I would not advise drinking too much coffee as three to four cups per day is considered a reasonable amount to consume for an adult.


Dindar, S., “Caffeine boosts long-term memory, study shows,” Yahoo! web site;, last accessed Jan.14, 2014.

Borota, D., et al., “Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans,” Nature Neuroscience 2014.

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About the Author, Browse K.J.'s Articles

Dr. K.J.McLaughlin is a chiropractor with 27 years of clinical experience. In addition, he has degrees in physical education, nutrition and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist with an interest in anti-aging medicine. He has also spent time studying health promotion and the effect that health education has upon health outcomes. Dr. McLaughlin has a diverse professional background which has involved clinical management, teaching, health promotion and health coaching and brings a unique passion to his work.