Bad Memory? Drink More Caffeine


Does caffeine help or harm memory?

Caffeine affects brain function and researchers have been investigating whether caffeine improves memory and learning retention or hinders it.

Here are just some of the scientific studies that have investigated caffeine’s influence on memory and diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Caffeine’s Effect on Cognition

Studies have explored how consuming caffeine can influence a person’s memory and cognition. Here are just a few.

  1. One study published in the Physiology & Behavior Journal looked at caffeine’s effect on the memory of word lists. The researchers found that in males, caffeine had no effect, but in females, caffeine worsened cognition slightly. Src.
  2. Another study published by Nature Neuroscience found that caffeine administered post studying helped students with memory consolidation.
  3. The University of Arizona recently looked at whether caffeine helps memory during periods when kids aren’t in their optimal periods of arousal. Basically, caffeine given to kids in the morning helped with memory, while caffeine given to kids in the afternoon (a kids optimal arousal time) had no effect.
  4. A similar study found the same phenomenon in adults, but only when caffeine was administered in the afternoon, which is an adult’s period of lowest level of arousal.
  5. Another study published in Neuropharmacology found that moderate levels of caffeine seemed to help with some types of memory in males, but excessive caffeine had a negative effect on certain types of memory.
  6. Yet another study published in the Journals of Gerontology showed that women who consumed more than the median daily amount of coffee (261 mg per day) had a reduced risk of developing dementia or memory impairment.

Caffeine, Coffee, and Alzheimer’s

1.  A team of scientists has studied folks with Alzheimer’s and found that “the group that drank the most coffee had the best memories” (source).

In a later study, they applied some Alzheimer’s inflicted mice with 500mg of caffeine (where do they find these poor rodents?). With 500mg of caffeine the memories of the mice were protected (how do they test that?).

The study author recommended caffeine from coffee as the best source:

Arendash said coffee provides the best source of concentrated caffeine because it also provides antioxidants also known to provide protection against memory loss.

Caffeinated soft drinks do not deliver the same benefit because they lack those antioxidants and also contain sugars, increasing the risk for hypertension or high blood pressure.

While chocolate also is a source of caffeine, one would have to eat 5 pounds of milk chocolate to get the same effects of drinking five cups of caffeinated coffee, Arendash noted.

2.  Other research published in Journal of Neuroinflammation has also shown evidence that caffeine helps prevent this disease.

Basically, they found that caffeine protects the blood-brain barrier, which helps prevent the brain damage responsible for Alzheimer’s.

You can read more about the study at BBC News.

3. A study conducted by Alzheimer Europe and the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee found that 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day is the optimal amount to protect the brain form degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s.

The study also cited a Mediterranean Diet as another factor that lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

More about this study here.

Natural and Moderate Caffeine Seems Best

From the above research, we can conclude that caffeine does show some benefit to memory. There is evidence that it helps prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s and helps improve certain types of memory.

However, to get the most memory-boosting benefits, we recommend the following:

  • Consuming caffeine through natural sources such as coffee and tea.
  • Consuming a moderate amount of caffeine that is considered safe for your age and health profile.
  • Consuming caffeine during your non-optimal period of arousal during your work or school day.

Does your memory function better after having caffeine?

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  • phimur

    I read a study, caffiene expands the blood vessles in the brain.

  • Idalis De Leon

    Such a lie. Caffeine expecially in the form of coffee is so so so bad for your brain, its not even funny. Most likely contributes to the cause of Alzheimer’s.

  • Ted

    Research studies to back your claim up?

  • Tim


  • Ted
  • pmrogers27

    Caffeine can have positive and negative effects on the body and health, I think the summary is accurate, taken in moderation it’s a useful harmless drug and has some health benefits for some people. Interestingly studies have shown black tea in its stronger blends often contains far more caffeine than coffee, yet due to the presence of thiamine and possibly other natural plant substances, it has a more muted and different effect than the caffeine hit you get from drinking coffee, some describe tea as relaxing and comforting (in Britain tea is always given to people in shock, distress or anyone just unhappy), but with a lifted level of socialability and alertness.

  • pmrogers27

    How can you make such a statement? Aren’t you generalising here? Caffeine has been proven scientifically to be benefical and healthy in moderate daily amounts and harmless. Surely any adverse effects would depend entirely on how much caffeine a person consumed and how serious an addiction they had. Plus other factors would have to be considered such as their overall general health, any underlying health problems, history of genetically inherited diseases in family etc. I’ve looked at many studies and seen nothing to suggest caffeine is linked to Alzheimer’s or any other brain disorders.

  • pmrogers27

    I read that too. Caffeine’s effect is comparable to amphetamine stimulant-type drugs like Khat and MDA. It raises blood pressure, makes the heart beat faster, pumps more blood to brain stimulating the brains alertness and releasing adrenaline. It’s a lot more subtle though to those other stimulants, so you can keep taking it daily without any harmful effects. Whereas if you kept doing that with real amphetamine-type substances, it would soon wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system and CNS.

  • Irelia Kroot

    I’ve been drinking alot of energy drinks and even supplemented with caffeine pills often. Recently I noticed that I often forget things, even when I was about to do them. Stopped taking caffeine alltogether (cold turkey, not even coke), got a big nasty headache and after that I was fine again. f*** caffeine, it’s only useful if you’re extremely tired and don’t want to fall asleep other than that it’s a waste.

  • I found out that caffeine is a viable cognitive enhancer if two conditions are fulfilled: 1. The coffee (if you take caffeine through coffee) does not harm the stomach. 2. If you use caffeine on occasionally for a boost.

    Chronic caffeine consumption causes your body to develop a tolerance and lowers the amount of beneficial stimulation that you receive. Also the left-over caffeine in your body affects the quality of your sleep, so that your always tired

  • Ozbloke36

    Exactly, chronic caffeine use like most people end up doing (every day and even multiple times a day) basically brings you back to base line, not above it like if you use it on an occasional basis.

    100% agree with you.

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Last Modified: October 5, 2016