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Keywords:

  • habitual caffeine consumption;
  • cognition;
  • memory;
  • reaction time;
  • ageing

Abstract

The present study evaluated the association between habitual caffeine intake via coffee and tea and cognitive performance. This was done as part of a larger research programme into the determinants of cognitive ageing (the Maastricht Aging Study: MAAS). Possible withdrawal effects that may have explained in part the positive association between performance and intake in an earlier study were controlled for. In addition, all cognitive tests in this study were administered under strict laboratory conditions. A group of 1875 healthy adults, stratified for age (range 24 – 81 years), sex, and general ability, were screened for habitual intake of coffee and tea and took part in extensive cognitive testing. Multiple regression analysis with control for age, sex, socio-demographic variables, and substance use showed that habitual caffeine consumption was significantly related to better long-term memory performance and faster locomotor speed. No relationships were found between habitual caffeine consumption and short-term memory, information processing, planning, and attention as measured with the Stroop Test. Moreover, no difference in sensitivity to caffeine intake between different age groups was found, suggesting that caffeine intake did not counteract age-related cognitive decline. Several recommendations are made to improve the design of future studies in this field. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.