April 23, 2021 -- Drinking coffee on a regular basis appears to enhance concentration and improve motor control and alertness by creating changes in the brain, a new study suggests.

The study also found coffee drinkers had increased activity in parts of the brain consistent with an improved ability to focus.

"For the general public, the take-home message is that we now know better how the regular intake of coffee prepares your brain for action and prompt response," senior author Nuno Sousa, MD, professor at the University of Minho in Portugal, told Medscape

The study was published online April 20 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Coffee "Signature"

Coffee holds "particular interest for human health, in view of its short-term effects on attention, sleep, and memory and its long-term impact on the appearance of different disease and on healthy span of aging," the authors write. However, despite its "widespread use," little research has focused on the "effects of its chronic consumption on the brain's intrinsic functional networks."

Rather, he noted, the investigators' motivation was to investigate the impact of regular coffee intake on brain connectivity, sometimes described as the "signature" of regular coffee drinking.

For the study, coffee drinkers were defined as those who drank more than one cups of coffee a day.

Double-Edged Sword

Commenting on the study for Medscape, J. W. Langer, MD, lecturer in medical pharmacology at University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark, who was not involved in the study, said it "also shows a possible link between habitual coffee consumption and higher stress and anxiety levels."

Although this is "only an association and not a causal finding, it reminds us that coffee can be a double-edged sword.”