The morning, mid-morning and afternoon coffee routine – the caffeine rush known to us all as a positive hit when feeling sluggish – might not be as great as you think.

The University of Arkansas has found that for coffee lovers, a long black might be the way forward for problem solving, alertness and enhanced focus. But if you want those creative juices flowing, a coffee might be giving you writer’s block.

“In Western cultures, caffeine is stereotypically associated with creative occupations and lifestyles, from writers and their coffee to programmers and their energy drinks, and there’s more than a kernel of truth to these stereotypes,” says Darya Zabelina, assistant professor of psychology and first author of the study recently published in the journal ‘Consciousness and Cognition’.

A trial of 80 volunteers were randomly given a 200mg caffeine pill (equivalent to a strong cup of coffee), or a placebo. They were then tested on convergent and divergent thinking, working memory and mood. Test subjects reported feeling less sad, but the caffeine did not significantly affect their working memory.

“The 200mg caffeine pill enhanced problem solving significantly (convergent thinking) but had no effect on creative thinking (divergent thinking). It also didn’t make it worse, so keep drinking your coffee; it won’t interfere with these abilities.” says Zabelina.


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