Caffeine can be beneficial when attempting to cope with stress and could even prevent depression and memory loss, an international team of scientists has claimed.
The group of researchers from Brazil, Portugal and the US, led by Professor Rodrigo Chuna from the University of Coimbra, looked at the different ways in which caffeine has an effect on the brain. The team added caffeine to the drinking water of mice and then put them in stressful conditions, finding that the caffeine had a calming effect on the rodents.
Professor Chuna said: "If the animal is not stressed there isn't a very evident change in physiological parameters or behaviour. However, if you introduce changes to the lifestyle of the animals, what we see is they cope much better.
"What caffeine is doing is not making the system work better; what caffeine is doing is avoiding the system going into the wrong way of working. So it's a prevention of a deterioration, rather than an improvement."
Previous studies have identified that there is a link between caffeine and reduced stress or severity of depression, but it was unclear whether it was the social aspect or the caffeine itself.
Chuna sets the record straight: "It is indeed caffeine. Because mice didn't go to the coffee shop, mice didn't spend more time with each other. All those factors were controlled. The only variable was the intake of caffeine."