Scientists from the University of Minho in Portugal and elsewhere looked into the effects of coffee outside of just caffeine content as part of a study – and they found that plain caffeine didn’t have the same impact.
In fact, a cup of coffee also influenced working memory and goal-directed behaviour.
“There is a common expectation that coffee increases alertness and psychomotor functioning. When you get to understand better the mechanisms underlying a biological phenomenon, you open pathways for exploring the factors that may modulate it and even the potential benefits of that mechanism,” study co-author Nuno Sousa explained.
Experts said that drinking coffee actually increased the connectivity in the brain’s more advanced nerve network controlling vision, and other parts involved in working memory, cognitive control and goal-directed behaviour – something not found when participants only took caffeine.
Researchers also said that if subjects wanted to not just feel alert but ready to go, caffeine alone might not do the job.
“Acute coffee consumption decreased the functional connectivity between brain regions of the default mode network, a network that is associated with self-referential processes when participants are at rest,” study co-author Maria Picó-Pérez said.
“The subjects were more ready for action and alert to external stimuli after having coffee,” she added.
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