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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NEUROCOGNITION/NEUROSCIENCE

Location: Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging

Title: Coffee, but not caffeine, has positive effects on cognition and psychomotor behavior in aging

Authors
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Miller, Marshall -
item Chu, Yi Fang -
item Lyle, Barbara -
item Joseph, James -

Submitted to: Age
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 28, 2012
Publication Date: January 24, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/57984
Citation: Shukitt Hale, B., Miller, M.G., Chu, Y., Lyle, B., Joseph, J. 2013. Coffee, but not caffeine, has positive effects on cognition and psychomotor behavior in aging. Age. 35:2183-2192.

Interpretive Summary: The complex mixture of phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables provides protective health benefits. The presence of several bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols and caffeine, implicates coffee as a potential nutritional therapeutic in aging. Moderate (3–5 cups a day) coffee consumption in humans is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of developing certain chronic diseases. In order to demonstrate these effects, we fed aged rats (19 months) one of five coffee-supplemented diets (0%, 0.165%, 0.275%, 0.55%, and 0.825% of the diet) for 8 weeks prior to motor and cognitive behavior assessment. Aged rats supplemented with a 0.55% coffee diet, equivalent to 10 cups of coffee, performed better in tests that assess psychomotor and working memory compared to aged rats fed a control diet. A diet with 0.55% coffee appeared to be optimal. The 0.165% coffee-supplemented group (3 cups) showed some improvement in reference memory performance in the working memory task. In a subsequent study, the effects of caffeine alone did not account for the performance improvements, showing that the neuroprotective benefits of coffee are not due to caffeine alone, but rather other bioactive compounds in coffee. Therefore, coffee, in reasonable amounts, may reduce both motor and cognitive deficits in aging.

Technical Abstract: The complex mixture of phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables provides protective health benefits, mainly through additive and/or synergistic effects. The presence of several bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols and caffeine, implicates coffee as a potential nutritional therapeutic in aging. Moderate (3–5 cups a day) coffee consumption in humans is associated with a significant decrease in the risk of developing certain chronic diseases. However, the ability of coffee supplementation to improve cognitive function in aged individuals and the effect of the individual components in coffee such as caffeine have not been fully evaluated. We fed aged rats (19 months) one of five coffee-supplemented diets (0%, 0.165%, 0.275%, 0.55%, and 0.825% of the diet) for 8 weeks prior to motor and cognitive behavior assessment. Aged rats supplemented with a 0.55% coffee diet, equivalent to 10 cups of coffee, performed better in psychomotor testing (rotarod) and in a working memory task (Morris water maze) compared to aged rats fed a control diet. A diet with 0.55% coffee appeared to be optimal. The 0.165% coffee-supplemented group (3 cups) showed some improvement in reference memory performance in the Morris water maze. In a subsequent study, the effects of caffeine alone did not account for the performance improvements, showing that the neuroprotective benefits of coffee are not due to caffeine alone, but rather other bioactive compounds in coffee. Therefore, coffee, in achievable amounts, may reduce both motor and cognitive deficits in aging.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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