A coffee can make you forget

BBC Staff. (2004). “A coffee can make you forget.” BBC NEWS. Retrieved July 1st, 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3909085.stm

SUMMARY: This article looks at the effects of caffeine found in coffee to the short-term memory. It proves that caffeine hinders ones ability to produce one-word answers but instead testers state that the answer is ‘on the tip of their tongues.’ To prove that caffeine does in fact affect ones short-term memory a study was conduction on two groups of 32 college students. One group was given 2oo mg of coffee, while the other was given a dummy drug. When the group with caffeine was asked to answer a question with a one-word answer they were less likely to answer correctly, while the ones without caffeine were successful. It was concluded from this study that caffeine does in fact keep one alert but unless a question is posed, pertaining to the users current train of thought it will be very difficult to produce a word. “It aids short-term memory when the information to be recalled is related to the current train of thought but hinders short-term memory when it is unrelated.” As a regular coffee drinker I found this article really interesting as I always blamed my short-term memory loss on age, now I know it is caffeine induced. It would’ve been interesting, in my perspective had they tested people in the work force, on job related material to see how caffeine affects them. Although the study they did was valuable to understand the damage caffeine does in fact have on the brain.

Users: Caffeine is marketed as a stimulant, especially in American society, coffee at work and before work seems to be the drink of choice for most because it has proven to provide instant energy. On the contrary I would have to say that many people are unaware of this short-term memory lose side effect.

As this article states, “Caffeine is known to excite the brain and increase alertness” and this is how it is marketed. As it does give one instant energy, just its effects on the brain and thought process is never spoken of.

Obviously people who drink coffee enjoy it. The smell, taste and effects of coffee, are key factors as to why consumers need their daily dose. When coffee is marketed generally the understanding that it is a stimulant is never promoted, it’s more the taste and ways one can drink it. Take Starbucks for example, they have changed the concept of coffee to not only have simple classic forms but have hooked younger generations on a sweet drink containing caffeine, that they never would have drunken otherwise.

  1 comment for “A coffee can make you forget

  1. July 3, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    It seems to me that they are talking about temporary aphasia–word finding problem–which is a long term memory retrieval problem and has little to do with short term memory.

    But what does this mean to product design? From the point of view of user errors, for example, it would seem that people would be more likely to make mistakes in the morning, when they have just consumed large quantities of coffee.

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