By Yael Brender
If you’ve been feeling a bit like Dory from Finding Nemo lately, then a new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience may have the answer you’ve been looking for.
Daniel Borota, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, led the research team that analysed 160 participants aged between 18 and 30. They were shown pictures of different objects and asked to categorise them on the first day.
Then they were divided into two groups, one group received a pill containing 200 mg of caffeine, the other, a placebo tablet. On the second day, the participants were shown new pictures and asked to compare them to the original pictures.
The results were unanimous. Researchers found subjects who took the caffeine pill were better at identifying pictures that were similar, compared with the subjects that were given placebos.
To corroborate their findings, the research team then conducted similar tests with 100 mg and 300 mg of caffeine. There was improvement in 200 mg over 100 mg, but no improvement in 300 mg over 200 mg.
What they also discovered is timing is critical. The study found memory performance is not improved if the caffeine is consumed an hour before carrying out the test.
Thus, “We conclude that a dose of at least 200mg [of caffeine] is required to observe the enhancing effect of caffeine on the consolidation of memory,” the study authors wrote.
The next step is to deduce how caffeine works in relation to memory. In the meantime, it can’t hurt to move your daily tea or coffee to immediately after a study session. Anything that helps retain information before than crucial exam or meeting is worth a try.
By BB Intern Yael Brender
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