A New Reason to Drink Coffee

If you're resolving to be healthier in 2014, don't swear off Starbucks just yet — caffeine may be good for your long-term memory. For years, numerous studies have suggested that caffeine has many health benefits, like preventing Alzheimer's disease, reducing the risk of liver disease, and even reducing suicide risk. This new research suggests that consuming 200mg of caffeine a day may boost long-term memory. After class coffee? Absolutely!

The research team, led by Daniel Borota of Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, analyzed 160 participants between 18 and 30 years old. In the study, participants were shown pictures of various objects and were asked to identify them as "indoor" or "outdoor" items. Soon after this task, participants were blindly randomized to receive either a 200mg caffeine pill or a placebo. The next day, the subjects were shown the same pictures as well as some new ones. The researchers asked them to identify whether the pictures were "new," "old," or "similar to the original pictures." From this, the researchers found that subjects who took the caffeine the day before were better at identifying pictures that were similar, compared with participants who took the placebo.

The team conducted further experiments using 100mg and 300mg caffeine doses. Performance was better after the 200mg dose compared with the 100mg dose, but there was no improvement after the 300mg of caffeine compared with 200mg.

"We conclude that a dose of at least 200 mg is required to observe the enhancing effect of caffeine on consolidation of memory," the study authors explain.

The team also found that memory performance was not improved if subjects were given caffeine an hour before carrying out the picture identification test.

While you can now justify that after class cup of coffee, caffeine is still believed to disrupt sleep patterns hours after consuming it. Starbucks coffee contains about 20mg of caffeine per ounce, so plan accordingly.

Image: Getty Images