Short-term memory is a system for temporarily storing and managing information required to carry out complex tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. Short-term memory is involved in the selection, initiation, and termination of information-processing functions such as encoding, storing, and retrieving data. One test of short-term memory is memory span, the number of items, usually words or numbers, that a person can hold on to and recall.1
Impact of coffee on short-term memory
Austrian researchers gave a group of participants 100mg of caffeine, which is approximately equal to the amount of caffeine contained in 1 cup of coffee. The other group of participants received a placebo. The participants who received 100mg of caffeine showed a surge in brain activity, measured by functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI), as they performed a memory task. They also showed improved reaction times and memory skills, compared to those participants who took a placebo. Those who took the placebo showed no change or increase in brain activity, memory skills, or reaction times.2
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Photography by Lisa Peryman and Richard C. Owens
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