The cognitive ramping-up effect of coffee is not a new phenomenon. Hell, it’s not even new to the investigatory eye of the scientific community. You don’t really need at this point for any new research paper to tell you that coffee has a way of increasing brain functioning, it is at this point a known commodity, but still, maybe it’s sometimes nice to hear it anyway?
And if you are so inclined toward such words of affirmation, then good news! A new study has scanned people’s brains and found that drinking coffee can boost your brain power.
The new paper, published recently in Nature’s journal Scientific Reports, finds that not only coffee but music as well has such properties. For the study, researchers from New York University and the University of Houston used a new brain-monitoring technology known as Mindwatch, which has been in development for the past six years by NYU Tandon’s Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor and study co-author Rose Faghih. As reported by Neuroscience News, the Mindwatch is an “algorithm that analyzes a person’s brain activity from data collected via any wearable device that can monitor electrodermal activity (EDA)” and “reflects changes in electrical conductance triggered by emotional stress, linked to sweat responses.”
As part of the test, participants would wear skin-monitoring wristbands and brain-monitoring headbands while being put through what is known as an n-back test. In this cognitive test, participants are given a sequence of sounds or images and then asked to state where a current stimulus is the same as the one presented a given number back in the sequence. For a 3-back test, it would be three places ago in the sequence; for a 5-back test, it would be five, etc. Participants were given the n-back test as a baseline, before drinking coffee or listening to music or smelling perfume, a third thing that they also tested.
Using the Mindwatch, the researchers found that coffee and music “measurably altered subjects’ brain arousal.” In particular, coffee and music were found to promote an increase in “beta band” brain wave activity, “a state associated with peak cognitive performance.” Perfume’s effects were said to be modest in this regard.
Coffee’s effect was said to be slightly less than that of music, but both saw the largest gains in a 3-back version of the test versus the 1-back. This indicates to the researchers that these stimuli have the greatest effect when the “cognitive load” is higher.
So there you have it, more proof of something you already know: coffee makes your brain work better. Drink up, jam out, and tune in.