CHICAGO – A team of Austrian researchers using advanced brain imaging technology has discovered that caffeine in coffee and soft drinks makes people more alert by perking up part of the brain involved in short-term memory, the kind that helps focus attention on the tasks at hand.
And Americans seem most in need of concentrating, since their average daily consumption of 236 milligrams of caffeine, equivalent to more than 4½ cups of coffee, is three times the world average.
The findings revealed increased activity in the frontal lobe, where working memory is centered, and the anterior cingulum, which controls attention, in volunteers after consuming 100 mg of caffeine – about two cups of coffee. These areas showed no increased activity when the subjects drank the same fluid without caffeine in it.
“The increased activity means you are more able to focus,” said researcher Florian Koppelstaetter. “You have more attention, and your task management is better.”