Coffee with sugar boosts memory

London: A cup of coffee in the morning not just helps kick-start your day, it also has a much more potent effect on your brain if taken with sugar, a new study has claimed.

Scientists at the University of Barcelona in Spain found that having caffeine and sugar at the same time boosted the brain`s performance more than taking them separately.

They believe both the substances complement each other on brain functions such as attention span and working memory, the Daily Mail reported.

The new research is based on brain scans of 40 people who were tested after they had coffee with sugar, coffee without sugar, sugar on its own or just plain water.

The findings suggested that sugar-sweetened coffee may be the best way to prepare the brain for a busy day ahead.

But those who don`t take sugar at all can also get the same benefits from enjoying a sugary snack with their drink, said the researchers.

Study author Dr Josep Serra Grabulosa said: "The two substances improve cognitive performance by increasing the efficiency of the two areas of the brain responsible for sustained attention and working memory.

"The brain is more efficient under the combined effect of the two substances, since it needs fewer resources to produce the same level of performance than when volunteers took only caffeine, glucose or water."

Previous studies have suggested that caffeine is a stimulant which works on the brain and can combat drowsiness and fatigue.

It was also claimed that three cups of a coffee a day can significantly reduce the risk of Alzheimer`s disease, possibly by triggering a chain reaction in the brain that prevents the damage done by the disease.

Similarly, glucose, a type of sugar, is also known as the main fuel which brain cells need to function properly.

Researchers believe coffee and sugar boosts the effect of the other on brain functions. But the latest study showed that the two complement each other when it comes to bolstering the brain`s performance.

For the study, researchers performed MRI scans on the brains of participants to check their attention span and working memory. The tests were performed after they had consumed each of the drinks.

Results showed that when the volunteers drank coffee with sugar there was reduced activity in the bilateral parietal cortex and the left prefrontal cortex -- the two parts of the brain responsible for attention and memory.

But while activity levels dropped, the brain`s performance did not. This showed the brain operates more efficiently when it has had a caffeine and sugar boost, the researchers said.

The new research was published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental.