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Coffee, a stimulant drink.

Coffee, a stimulant drink

When fatigue approaches or the monotony of a task decreased one's intellectual performance, coffee can be a very effective stimulus. This is the conclusion reached by research conducted by Professor Karl Battig of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Coffee has always been one of the most popular intellectual "foods." Since the days of the first coffee houses where politicans, writers and members of society got together and sharpened their wits by drinking several cups of the fashionable beverage, the traditional question "Would you like a cup of coffee?" has never ceased to serve as a preface to many meetings.

Accelerating mental decoding

Intellectual performance depends on mental power (creativity, intuition, etc.) and on the speed with which the brain decodes data and processes it. Research shows that coffee primarily serves to stimulate mental decoding.

Professor Battig's experiments, carried out with the help of many volunteers, showed that the caffeine in coffee can improve intellectual performance by eliminating the time lag before the brain reacts and by increasing the speed with which it processes the data it receives.

"Caffeine & Sensory Processing" survey

The survey used two groups of volunteers who were asked to react to signals and figures appearing either in or out of order on screens. If the subject reacted correctly, the frequency of the questions increased. It decreased if mistakes were made.

The effects of caffeine showed up clearly in the different tests. The monotony of the task and the subjects' fatigue gradually reduced the performance level. But this decline was significantly checked as soon as a subject absorbed a dose of caffeine. The average improvement was between 5 and 10% and even up to 30% in the case of certain tests.

The study also confirmed that modest doses of 1 to 1 1/2 cups of coffee had an effect and that this did not lessen with time. People who have drunk coffee for many years still feel the stimulating effect of caffeine.

What is the role of caffeine?

Does caffeine simply prevent fatigue or does it directly stimulate cerebral activity? This complex question deserves to be investigated further on the basis of this study. The stimulating effect of coffee on the mental processes is nevertheless clear.

Today jobs often involve repetitive or monotonous work facing a computer screen, on a production line or in front of a complex control panel. Coffee drunk during breaks, quite apart from its social character, plays a definite part in maintaining concentration at a steady level and in stimulating the mental processes when they are employed on a continuous basis.
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Title Annotation:effect of caffeine on mental activity
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Apr 1, 1991
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