London: Most people believe that a cup of coffee in the morning helps them boost their mental performance all day.
But a new study by the University of East London has suggested that the stimulating effect of the coffee may be all in the mind.
The British researchers studied 88 volunteers aged between 18 and 47 who were self-confessed coffee lovers, downing at least two cups every day.
Some were given caffeinated coffee and told it was decaffeinated. Others were given decaffeinated but were told it contained caffeine.
The recruits then undertook a series of tests designed to measure mental performance, reaction times and mood.
The results showed the genuine caffeine drinkers showed improved performance on a test, which involves stating the colour a word is printed in.
However, the caffeine drinkers did not appear to have boosted reaction times.
But those who wrongly thought they had caffeinated coffee performed better on both the colour test and reaction times.
Thus the results suggest coffee’s powers may be due to anticipation.
“The findings suggest the expectation of having consumed caffeine confers an enhancement on sustained attention that is at least comparable, and perhaps superior to, the effects of caffeine,” the Daily Mail quoted the researchers as saying.
The report was published in the journal Appetite.