Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world, consumed by billions of people every day in tea, coffee and energy drinks. It is commonly used to increase focus and concentration.

On the side, Coffee It is widely believed to disrupt sleep, and insomnia is known Reduce the size of the brain and impair cognitive function. Does caffeine consumption somehow change the structure of your brain?

Caffeine on the brain

That’s the question that Yu-Shiwan Lin of the University of Basel and her colleagues set out to answer, and they hypothesize that daily caffeine intake alters gray matter structure by disrupting sleep. Their results – based on neuroimaging studies and Published In the magazine The front part of the brain – Coffee has actually been shown to temporarily reduce gray matter. Surprisingly, this was not associated with sleep disturbances.

The researchers recruited 20 healthy young men who drank coffee every day and gave them a tablet that lasted over two 10 days without drinking any coffee. At one point, they took three tablets a day, each containing 150 mg of caffeine; At other times, they took placebo tablets with no active ingredients. This was done in a randomized, double-blind fashion, so that neither the researchers nor the participants knew which tablets they took in each period.

After each 10-day period, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to examine the participants’ brain structure and electroencephalography (EEG) to record their sleep patterns. While they found no significant differences in sleep duration or quality between the two conditions, they did see significant differences in brain structure, with larger gray matter volumes appearing after ten days of caffeine tablets versus placebo.

These differences were most pronounced in the right medial temporal lobe and especially in the hippocampus, a structure important for memory. However, these changes appeared to be transient and were associated with caffeine-induced changes in cerebral blood flow.

The caffeinated life

Animal studies show that caffeine has neuroprotective effects, and can reverse the cognitive decline associated with it. Age, Chronic stressAnd Neurodegenerative disease, but human studies have shown mixed results. The current study is limited by the small sample size, and cerebral blood flow measurements and structural images were performed three hours apart.

Still, the results warrant further investigation into the effects of caffeine on the brain, particularly in regular drinkers compared to those who consume less caffeine.

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