Caffeine charges up a part of the brain
An NIH study in rats has shown that caffeine stimulates a particular region of the brain which affects learning and memory.
Akinso:When drinking coffee, many coffee lovers feel mentally refreshed or stimulated, and now according to an NIH study in rats, that stimulation happens in a particular part of the brain.
Dudek: Caffeine, in concentrations that are comparable to a large cup of coffee, can strengthen connections in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, in the part of the hippocampus called CA2.
Akinso: Dr. Serena Dudek is the senior author of this NIH Study.
Dudek: The hippocampus is a part of the brain. It's a structure that's known to be important for learning and memory. And the CA2 is a little part of the hippocampus that really hasn't been studied much.
Akinso: Once the rats were given caffeine, researchers measured the strength of nerve cells' electrical messages in brain tissue.
Dudek: The caffeine caused an enhancement of the synaptic responses and - almost immediately in the case of the brain slices. We then characterized the cellular mechanism of this enhancement.
Akinso: According to Dr. Dudek, the study showed that the higher the caffeine dose, the stronger the effect in the CA2 region of the brain.
Dudek: Caffeine enhances synaptic connections in this one particular part of the brain at concentrations that really don't do anything elsewhere. So we think that this is where caffeine is working.
Akinso: Dr. Dudek adds that the CA2 region is likely to be a key site where cognitive function is modulated by the time of day. For more information, visit www.niehs.nih.gov. For NIH Radio, this is Wally Akinso— NIH...Turning Discovery Into Health®
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Dudek
Topic: caffeine, brain, memory, learning, CA2, Hippocampus