Ever question your sanity after paying five dollars for a latte? Many of us have. Indeed, it’s not news to anyone that many adults cite coffee as one of the essentials they need to get their mornings going. That said, recent research suggests that our willingness to stand in that long Starbucks line may be less demented than previously thought. Specifically, the authors found that time of day and caffeine have significant main and interactive effects on the scores of older adults’ dementia assessments.
It appears that a tall, skinny, no-foam latte, at least among older adults, has been empirically validated as a key to cognitive ability, at least among older adults at-risk for dementia. The newly published research found that administering dementia tests earlier in the day, paired with a jolt of caffeine, led to more lucid and higher scores among test-takers than non-caffeinated older adults who were tested later in the day. Researchers administered neuropsychological tests to a sample of participants over 60 years of age and found significant time-of-day effects on a variety of cognitive ability tests (e.g., Mini-Mental State Exam), revealing a decline in assessment scores as time of day increased. Additionally, there was a significant interaction that occurred with caffeine intake (i.e., a boost in assessment scores with the addition of caffeine, especially those assessments taken earlier in the day).
Researchers noted that these clear time-of-day- and caffeine-related effects emphasize the importance of being able to control for these sorts of external factors when scoring older adults’ dementia assessments. But if you ask me, the quick takeaway is this: your early morning caffeine fix is not as demented as you think—so drink up!