More about Caffeine and Memory
If you drink caffeine, check out the Lifehacker article, What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain.
The article suggests that caffeine doesn’t actually give you a boost, but just stops the brain from inhibiting other stimulants like dopamine and glutamate:
More important than just fitting in, though, caffeine actually binds to those [adenosine] receptors in efficient fashion, but doesn’t activate them—they’re plugged up by caffeine’s unique shape and chemical makeup. With those receptors blocked, the brain’s own stimulants, dopamine and glutamate, can do their work more freely—”Like taking the chaperones out of a high school dance,” Braun writes in an email. In the book, he ultimately likens caffeine’s powers to “putting a block of wood under one of the brain’s primary brake pedals.”
Here is what they have to say about caffeine and memory:
The general consensus on caffeine studies shows that it can enhance work output, but mainly in certain types of work. For tired people who are doing work that’s relatively straightforward, that doesn’t require lots of subtle or abstract thinking, coffee has been shown to help increase output and quality. Caffeine has also been seen to improve memory creation and retention when it comes to “declarative memory,” the kind students use to remember lists or answers to exam questions.
(In a semi-crazy side note we couldn’t resist, researchers have implied this memory boost may be tied to caffeine’s effect on adrenaline production. You have, presumably, sharper memories of terrifying or exhilarating moments in life, due in part to your body’s fight-or-flight juice. Everyone has their “Where I was when I heard that X died” story, plugging in John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, or Kurt Cobain, depending on generational relatability).
Then again, one study in which subjects proofread text showed that a measurable boost was mainly seen by those who could be considered “impulsive,” or willing to sacrifice accuracy and quality for speed. And the effect was only seen in morning tests, indicating the subjects may have either become lightly dependent on caffeine, or were more disposed to such tasks at that time of day.
I stopped drinking coffee, and usually only drink oolong tea in the morning or afternoon. Oolong is partially fermented tea, something like a cross between green and black teas. I switched to tea because I think it’s less harsh than coffee, and it contains an interesting substance called theanine.