Dec. 3, 2003
Response of Adults to Caffeinated Coffee
The Response of Gerontology and Non-Gerontology Populations to Caffeinated Coffee
Scott Presbrey, 14, Fort Myers, Fla.
National Park Service "Explorer" Award, Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge, 2003.
Project background: Scott's grandmother was getting forgetful, and she was advised to try energy drinks to help her memory. Scott found out that the main ingredient in these drinks is caffeine, and he wanted to test whether caffeinated coffee would improve the cognitive recall and reaction time of adults. He also wanted to see if adults older than 60 years would improve more than those under the age of 60.
Tactics and results: Working with a physician, Scott recruited 46 daily coffee drinkers. They were asked to arrive early in the morning and to be caffeine deprived. The subjects were sorted into three age groups: 20 to 40, 40 to 60, and over 60. In a cognitive recall test, they were given 10 words to study for a minute, then asked to write as many of the words as they could remember. A reaction test that involved grasping a dropped, wooden yardstick was also administered. Then, the subjects drank a 6-ounce cup of coffee. After 45 minutes, they were given further tests.
All age groups improved in both cognitive recall and reaction times while under the influence of caffeine, a result that supported Scotts hypothesis. The reaction time of the oldest population improved the most. However, the 20-to-40 age group improved the most in cognitive recall.
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