To drink or not to drink?
Xin Yi Cindy Li, Seika Taniguchi
Sir Winston Churchill
Floor Location : M 081 H

This experiment was designed to observe and analyze which amount of caffeine had the greatest effect on teenagers’ study efficiency 45 minutes after consumption. The hypothesis was that more caffeine taken would increase focus and therefore memory retention, because less amounts of adenosine bonded would likely result in less drowsiness.

The procedure was conducted with 3 trials of 8 participants each. 2 participants were given no caffeine (control group), 2 participants were given 57mg of caffeine, 2 participants were given 114mg of caffeine, and 2 participants were given 171mg of caffeine. The participants were given a memory test -- based on a cognitive skill test -- which involved memorizing imaginary words and their English equivalents. All of the participants were given a “pre-test”, which is an initial test to identify their aptitude as learners. They were subsequently given coffee with the respective amounts of caffeine. 45 minutes after consuming the caffeine , the participants were given a “post-test” to determine their improvement. By subtracting the pre-test score from the post-test score, we determined the percentage of improvement of each individual, which we then averaged for our entire sample base.

The results of the experiment were quite intriguing, and disproved the initial hypothesis. The participants who consumed the smallest dosage of caffeine had shown the most increase in memory retention, while the other groups showed lower improvement results in comparison. From this, it was determined that caffeine in moderation will bring about positive effects, even after only 45 minutes. While the originally thought that higher amounts of caffeine would result in more alertness, after qualitative observation, we realize that too much caffeine increases the participants’ heart rates too much and causes side effects such as dizziness and headaches which interfered with their studying. A recommended maximum dose of caffeine for adolescents is 100mg, half of the recommended amount for adults (Kid's Health, 2014). Based on our results, we can now conclude that the group given the smallest amount of caffeine were the most successful because they had enough caffeine to enhance their focus but not so much that they were distracted. The group given the medium amount of caffeine had no improvement percentage, which could be due to the fact that they were over, but very close to, the maximum amount of caffeine recommended for optimum performance. The group given the greatest amount of caffeine improved significantly less than the group with the least amount of caffeine, but they still improved, which shows that improvement decreases with more excess caffeine taken. It was made evident that the amount of caffeine did not directly correlate to increase of memory retention. In other words, more coffee does not indicate better memory. The purpose of this experiment was fully met, and it can be concluded that the memory retention in teenagers will improve even after short periods of relatively small amounts of caffeine consumed.