Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I need my coffee!

Please don't say this is true: coffee may hamper short-term memory. And I thought my problems came from lack of sleep.
But Miss Lesk and her colleague Stephen Womble, from Trinity College, Dublin, found it can hamper or boost short-term memory, depending on what you are trying to remember.

They divided 32 college students into two groups. One group was given 200mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to two strong cups of coffee, and the other was given a dummy drug.

The students were then asked to answer 100 general knowledge questions that had simple, one-word answers.

For example, one question was "Name the ancient Egyptian writing," with a target answer of "hieroglyphics".

For each question the student was given 10 words to look at before answering.

Between two and eight of the words were similar sounding to the answer, for example hierarchy sounds similar to hieroglyphics.

The other words were completely unrelated to the answer.
But wait! There's hope. Tiny details make the difference. Speaking of tiny, check out the sample size of the study: 32, meaning 16 in each group.

I guess I'll have to run down the article and check it out. Don't despair, coffee drinkers! I have a feeling this might turn out to be a false alarm.