Your morning cup of coffee may do more than just help you wake up.
A study conducted by two Tufts psychologists found that caffeine appears to make people perform better in a proofreading test. “Coffee is the most widely used psycho-stimulant in the world,” says Holly Taylor, a Tufts professor of psychology in the School of Arts and Sciences.
The general idea is that arousal, such as that associated with caffeine, makes people better at processing information, both the fine details and the bigger picture.
The researchers conducted two experiments. The first experiment involved 36 participants who normally just drink half a cup of coffee each day. They were randomly given capsules containing one of four doses of caffeine: 0 milligrams, 100 milligrams (equal to 8 ounces of coffee), 200 milligrams (equal to 16 ounces of coffee), or 400 milligrams (equal to 20 ounces of coffee). Forty-five minutes after they took the capsule, the study subjects were asked to read a one-page news story and identify and correct as many spelling and grammatical mistakes as they could find in five minutes.
The second experiment was the same, except the participants were people who regularly drank the equivalent of 24 ounces of coffee a day.
What the researchers found was that caffeine consumption did not affect the participants’ ability to find spelling errors. However, caffeine consumption did help the participants find complex global errors, such a mistakes in subject and verb agreement and verb tense.
The participants in the first experiment performed best with 200 milligrams of caffeine. The participants who were already heavy coffee drinkers needed more caffeine, 400 milligrams, to improve.
“These results support the notion that central nervous system stimulants may enhance global processing of language-based materials,” the researchers wrote.
The same researchers who conducted this study are currently conducting further studies on caffeine, including one on memory.
- Study shows a hit of caffeine can boost your information-processing skills. MedicalXpress. 21 December 2012. Web. 27 December 2012.