Yet another scientist is getting his knickers in a twist because people won't think exactly as he wants. This one is Peter Rogers, Professor of Biological Psychology at Bristol University.
Speaking at the British Nutrition Foundation's 40th anniversary conference, he said that regular coffee-drinkers were mistaken if they thought that the first cup of coffee in the morning gave them a "caffeine buzz" with a much-needed boost to alertness and concentration.
What it really does, according to Professor Rogers, is ease the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. During the night, caffeine leaves the body, lowering alertness and mood and degrading performance. Drinking caffeine again in the morning reversed these effects, but did not boost alertness above the normal levels.
"People who drink tea or coffee feel that it alerts them, and that's why many of us want to use it because it gets us going. But the research suggests that, in fact, with regular consumption of coffee you become dependent on it," he said.
We sent our Grumpy Old Coffee Correspondent, Arabella Bucket, to interview the Professor ….
Arabella Bucket: "So, professor, thanks for sparing the time to talk to me. Yes, thanks, I'd love a cup of coffee. No milk, one sugar, please. I see you're having one yourself - what does it do for you?"
Prof. Rogers: "Nothing at all. "
AB: "So why drink it? "
PR: "Just habit, I suppose. "
AB: "It doesn't make you more alert, then? "
PR: "No. Well, that is to say, it makes me feel more alert. But it's an illusion. It only makes me as alert as I would have done if I hadn't been asleep all night. "
AB: "So … do you mean that if you stayed awake all night you'd feel alert in the morning? "
PR: "No, of course not. That's silly. I'd feel very tired. "
AB: "So you'd have a cup of coffee to wake you up? "
PR: "Well, yes … but it wouldn't be real, you understand. If I didn't drink coffee it wouldn't arise. "
AB: "So why don't you stop drinking coffee and staying awake all night? "
PR: "You're just twisting things. Look, I knew this interview was a mistake …"
AB: "No, professor, it's going swimmingly. It's just that I can't seem to quite get clear in my head what your point is. Perhaps I should have another cup of coffee to clear my mind? And a cigarette? "
PR: "Now you're just making fun. Listen, I'm going. I've got far more important things to do. We're just starting a new project to examine the effects of journalists on scientists … "
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