You probably don’t need some Ogbert in a white lab coat to tell you that coffee helps wake you up and kickstart your brain in the morning. But if you want to have a better understanding of what is going on and why inside that ole noodle of yours, you should hear the lab coat out. And thanks to a new study, we may have a better idea of how coffee and caffeine effect brain activity.
As reported by WANE, the findings are the work of researchers from Portugal’s University of Minho School of Medicine. Led by Nuno Sousa, the president of the medical school, researchers measured participants’ brain activity using fMRI technology. Split into two groups—coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers—participants brain activity was recorded while they were at rest, while performing a taste, and immediately after drinking coffee.
When analyzing the results, researchers found a link between “drinking coffee and a decreased degree of connectivity in the right precuneus and right insular areas of the brain.” This, according to the article, translates into improved motor control and more alertness. Researchers also found “dynamic activity” in areas of the brain associated with “an increased ability to focus, learn, and remember.”
These effects were present not just in regular coffee drinkers but also appeared in non-coffee drinkers shortly after drinking coffee.
“This is the first time that the effect that drinking coffee regularly has on our brain network is studied with this level of detail,” Sousa wrote. “We were able to observe the effect of coffee on the structure and functional connectivity of our brain, as well as the differences between those who drink coffee regularly and those who don’t drink coffee, in real time.”
The study does note that it’s not all upside for the coffee brain, though. Researchers found that regular coffee drinkers had higher levels of stress than those who did not. My not-at-all coffee homerism response to that is that it isn’t coffee that raises stress levels, it’s that the world is a stressful place and coffee drinkers, with their more advanced and better attuned brains, are simply more able to experience the world as it is. Don’t blame coffee, it is the world who is wrong.
So if you want to be better, faster, stronger, drink coffee. Stress is simply the burden of having a superhuman brain.