Coffee happens to be the day starter for many. Although considered unhealthy its caffeine boost is necessary for many to keep going through the day. But here is a piece of good news for coffee lovers. It plays a substantial role in improving your memory and alertness.
In a recent study conducted by the University of Toronto, it was found that just looking at something that reminds us of coffee can cause our minds to become more alert and attentive.
“Coffee is one of the most popular beverages and a lot is known about its physical effects,” says Sam Maglio, an associate professor in the Department of Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the Rotman School of Management in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. “Much less is known about its psychological meaning — in other words, how even seeing reminders of it can influence how we think.”
The discovery was made when the university researchers were learning an effect called priming, through which exposure to even subtle cues can influence a person's thoughts and behaviour.
“People often encounter coffee-related cues, or think about coffee, without actually ingesting it,” says Maglio, an expert on consumer behaviour. “We wanted to see if there was an association between coffee and arousal such that if we simply exposed people to coffee-related cues, their physiological arousal would increase, as it would if they had actually drank coffee.”
To find out, a mix of participants from Western and Eastern cultures were studied as a part of four separate studies. Participants of the study were exposed to coffee-related and tea-related cues.
It was found that “people who experience physiological arousal – again, in this case as the result of priming and not drinking coffee itself – see the world in more specific, detailed terms,” says Maglio, whose past research has looked at how uncertainty can affect our perception of time. “This has a number of implications for how people process information and make judgements and decisions.”
However, it was also observed during the course of the study that the effect was not as pronounced among participants who grew up in Eastern cultures and are not addicted to coffee as an all-time beverage.