Coffee may offer a boost to our long-term memory, according to a new study in Nature Neuroscience. The findings are based on test subjects' ability to remember patterns in pictures after taking a caffeine pill. Researchers showed 44 volunteers who hadn't had coffee for at least a day a quick series of pictures, ranging from a seahorse to a hammer to a car. Afterward, randomly-chosen subjects were given a caffeine pill while others got a placebo, the Guardian reports. A day later, the subjects were again shown images—some new, some old, and some altered.
The caffeine group was about 10% better at pointing out the altered images. "What I've taken from this is that I should keep drinking my coffee," a researcher says. "Our study suggests there's a real learning and memory benefit." But Gizmodo notes that there's a "sweet spot" of about two espressos—higher and lower doses of caffeine showed lesser effects. Some outside experts raised doubts, citing, for instance, the study's small size. But if coffee isn't so helpful, other researchers have raised hope with a series of brain exercises. In history's biggest cognitive-training study, some 3,000 older adults were given three different training programs involving memory, reasoning, and processing speed. A decade later, some benefits were still visible. Reuters has more. (Read more coffee stories.)