Coffee is pretty much rocket fuel for your brain. You don’t exactly need an advanced degree in a hard science nor any real notion of the inner workings of your thinking organ to understand that the day’s first cup of coffee turbocharges your faculties. Nonetheless, scientists have taken to studying how coffee affects brain activity, and according to recent research, it may be doing more than just providing an additional jolt of energy; coffee may be rewiring your brain.
Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the findings are a joint effort by researchers from the Korea University College of Medicine, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. For the study, researchers at “functional connectivity” of the brain before and after drinking coffee for 21 participants. Using “graph-theoretical analysis” of electroencephalography (EEG), participants had their brain activity measured before drinking coffee—containing 67mg caffeine—and then again 30 minutes after.
Participants were also asked to perform cognitive function tests before and after drinking coffee, including Digit Span Forward and Backward tests (a series of eight or nine numbers the participant has to remember and repeat back, either forward or backward), a Target Detection Task (where a visual target must be recognized and tapped on), a Trail Making Test (a time-based test where one must quickly and accurately connect numbered dots), and a Short Term Memory Recall task (where the participant is given a list of things that they must remember).
Researchers then analyzed the graphs from before and after coffee and correlated them to the results of the cognitive function tests. They found that improvements in two tests in particular, the Digit Span tests and the Trail Marking Test Part B, correlated to changes in graph measurements for the participants. This, according to the researchers, reflects “a shift toward efficient network properties” and “might be attributed to the reorganization of [functional connectivity] toward more efficient network properties.”
In short, coffee may be making your brain run smarter and more efficiently.
Because of the small testing size, though—only 21 participants in total—no definitive conclusions can be drawn. But according to the researchers, the findings could be “used as quantitative markers to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of coffee on cognition, especially executive function.”
So while it doesn’t take a genius to see that coffee ramps up your thinking power, just know that the geniuses have nonetheless looked into it and came to the same conclusion you did.