AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Caffeine- helpful or harmful?

CC licensed photo by Manny Hernandez

As we all know, the highly addictive drug, caffeine, found in our coffee, tea, soda, etc… simulates us. Many people use caffeine to stay a wake which works really well. But it also causes a build up of fatty acid in the blood, raises blood pressure,  stimulates the heart, respiratory system, and central nervous system, causes stomach to produce more acid, harder to digest food because muscles surrounding the intestinal system relax, increased urination, and many other symptoms.

Is caffeine more helpful or more harmful? And where does caffeine really affect our body?

Recently, scientist have been testing caffeine on lab rats to figure out which part of the brain caffeine stimulates the most. In the first trial, they gave the rats more caffeine than what a human would normally ingest. They then decided to use  smaller amounts of caffeine which affected the hippocampus. The hippocampus is part of the brain which allows for long term memory and spacial navigation. In humans, the hippocampus is located inside the medial temporal lobe. Damage to the hippocampus may cause oxygen starvation and/or amnesia. The rats received caffeine equivalent to two human cups of coffee which is two milligrams per kilogram of body weight. The scientists measured the nerve cell’s electrical messages but examining different parts of brain tissue.

The region that had the most response to the caffeine was called CA2. CA2 showed a burst of electrical energy, while other brain regions in the hippocampus showed no sign of stimulation. The then tested the rats giving a greater dosage which caused an even greater stimulation to CA2. After that the scientists directly injected caffeine into nerve cells in a dish and the results were the same as before. About 5 minutes of caffeine intake allowed for the synapses to stay amped for three hours.

The scientists believe that when humans use caffeine the same area, CA2, will be stimulated and may strengthen a persons ability to learn and memorize, but this is just a hypothesis since they only tested on rats. So you decide… is it helpful or harmful?

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  1. nicleus2

    Caffeine is undoubtedly bad for you. It is a drug that undoubtedly effects the way your body functions, mostly negatively, and thus is bad for your health. On a more direct note, caffeine impacts your heart most negatively. My father doesn’t drink coffee because caffeine it makes his heart “race.” My grandfather can not drink coffee because the caffeine could send him into cardiac arrest. Here is an article about the dangers of caffeine intake, or too much of it:

  2. aminoalix

    I for one do not enjoy drinking coffee. Unlike myself, many individuals agree with much of this research – saying that coffee and caffeine helps them to stay awake, keep from getting hungry and they can memorize faster with it. However, coffee drinkers can eventually create caffeine addictions, where they feel as though they cannot live without their drinks. Similar to drug with drawl, caffeine addicted individuals go through their own with drawls as well.

    Check it out online at:

  3. lp719

    This article immediately caught my attention because as an avid coffee drinker, I have been warned numerous times by my parents of the dangers of caffeine. I always knew that caffeine stimulated the heart and the central nervous system, but I had no idea that it affected the hippocampus. Whenever I use caffeine to stay up late to study for a test, I notice that I am able to concentrate more efficiently and remember all of the information the next day, but then forget everything I learned within the next couple of days. I researched a couple other articles to see if my observation made sense and I found a few other articles that also said that caffeine can improve short-term memory! The articles describe how caffeine boosts activity in brain regions related to attention and short-term memory.

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