Photo courtesy bigstockphoto.com. According to new research from the U.K., caffeine can give a memory boost….. at least to bees. The nectar of certain citrus flowers, along with coffee plant flowers, contain caffeine. The study found that when bees feed on nectar containing caffeine they are three times more likely to remember the scent of that particular flower and are more motivated. It seems that caffeine is a stimulant for bees and influences their behavior much as it does our own. Who knew I was improving my memory with coffee all this time?
CAFFEINE SHOWN TO IMPROVE MEMORY IN BEES
Many plants contain caffeine in their leaves naturally as a defense mechanism. The bitter taste deters hungry animals from eating plants containing it. Caffeine can also be found in the nectar of the plant. The amount of caffeine in the nectar of a coffee plant is similar to what we find in a cup of instant coffee. The bees do not taste the caffeine at these low doses but it is high enough to affect their behavior.
In a recent study from the U.K., caffeine was shown to improve memory in honeybees. The bees were trained Pavlovian style to remember the scent of certain flowers. The ones that were fed the caffeinated nectar, as opposed to just sugar nectar, were three times more likely to remember the scent of that flower 24 hours later. Also, twice as many bees still remembered after 72 hours.
Caffeine changes how Kenyon cells, neurons which are involved in memory and learning, respond to information. It leads to more sensitivity and stronger reaction to input. In other words, caffeine helps bees remember the floral scents and come back more often. This gives these plants an advantage by having a “faithful” pollinator.
While the effect on bees is obvious, researchers are hesitant to say caffeine has beneficial effects on memory in humans. More study is needed to see how caffeine affects us. But how many people drink coffee while reading or studying? Maybe our bodies are trying to tell us something. I think I’ll have another cup just in case.
What are your thoughts on caffeine as a memory booster?