Regular consumption of caffeine can reduce the amount of grey matter in your brain, found a study by scientists at the University of Basel. Grey matter is a substance that covers the human brain and makes our daily functions such as muscle control, sensory perceptions, emotions and decision-making possible. The study, published in the June issue of Cerebral Cortex, showed that consumption of caffeine affects the structure of a person’s brain to an extent that can be detected in a 10-day period. However, “Our results do not necessarily mean that caffeine consumption has a negative impact on the brain," one of the authors of the study Carolin Reichert said in a news release by the University of Basel.
Reichert led a team of scientists who performed an experiment in which 20 young and healthy people took part. 10 of them were given caffeine tablets and the rest of 10 were given placebo tablets with no active ingredients. They were not allowed to consume caffeine other than the researchers provided them. Scientists studied their brain activity scans(EEG) and monitored their sleep. While their sleep quality was unaffected, their brain scans showed that people who did not consume caffeine for the period had a greater amount of grey matter than those who did.
However, scientists also found that if participants, whose grey matter was reduced after regular caffeine consumption, did not consume caffeine for the next 10 days, their grey matter regenerated. According to Reichert, more systematic comparisons between regular coffee drinkers and people who consume little or no caffeine are required to reach a clear conclusion.
Caffeine is usually considered helpful in staying awake and improving attention. However, studies have shown that even if caffeine can temporarily help people fight off sleep, it does not reduce sleep deprivation. A person who is awake on caffeine, when met with slightly challenging tasks, would make mistakes as a sleep-deprived person. The latest study, if followed by more in the same direction goes against the common perception as the grey matter is also associated with intelligence, studies have shown.