Letter to Editor for September 25, 2012
Posted on Sep 25, 2012 in News
To whom it may concern:
Today I read the article by Natasha Mehra on cognitive enhancing drugs (eg, Ritalin, Adderall, etc) and their effect on student exam performance.
I agreed with many of the claims of the article; however, there were several myths about caffeine in particular that were portrayed as fact.
1.) Mehra claimed that “caffeine cannot make you focus”, which was one of the central arguments behind her defense of the use of caffeine as a cognitive enhancing drug.
However, this claim is largely unfounded by research on caffeine; in fact, quite the opposite is true.
In Caffeine: Psychological Effects, Use and Abuse” appearing in Orthomolecular Psychiatry (Volume 10, Issue 3, 1981), the author Stanford Bolton found that:
“Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system first at the higher levels, the cortex and medulla, and finally the spinal cord at higher doses. Mild cortex stimulation appears to be beneficial resulting in more clear thinking and less fatigue.
Caffeine has been shown to improve attention in a study which simulated night driving.”
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that certainly affects attention, focus, alertness, and clearer thinking.
To claim that it has no effect on focus is erroneous. While she is right in that caffeine will help keep you awake (ie, prevent insomnia), she is wrong in asserting that this is the only effect of caffeine intake.