At SciAm Blogs today: Grab some coffee, this paper may depress you

Oct 25 2011 Published by under Behavioral Neuro

Sci is at Sciam Blogs today talking about the latest coffee study!! I think it's a good study with an interesting finding, but I wasn't so thrilled with how it was handled in the media. Sorry, but coffee will probably not prevent your depression. Let alone cure it. But the delicious brown roasted bean still has my backing! Check it out, and if you'd like to leave a comment here or register there, be my guest!

10 responses so far

  • Andy says:

    Nice critique of the study! I'm curious, though, whether coffee was the only one of those measured drinks to end up with a significant correlation. What's special about coffee vs. tea vs. soda vs. etc.? Did they control for amount of caffeine in their analyses or is coffee's relatively bigger caffeine amount what's driving its "effect"?

    • Scicurious says:

      Good question! The effect was for caffeine overall, they did look at tea, soda, chocolate, etc. The effect ended up being coffee because of it's larger caffeine amount, they didn't get the higher doses in the patients who drank tea or soda.

  • Kat says: appears the links do not work. I just get a "Page not found" message.
    Is the write up on the Scientific America blog?

  • Daniella says:

    Nice critique! It's always great to see fellow lab rats using their analytical skills outside of the lab. Caffeine is that magical, interesting drug that also has been correlated (along with smoking) to decreased risk of developing Parkinson's. Some work here:

    Anyway, I'm new to your blog and really enjoying it. Check out my blog at if you're interested!

  • Kat says:

    I really enjoyed the write-up...but I do have a question if anyone can answer it (somewhat off topic).
    We all enjoy a cup of regular coffee as an "attention and alertness enhancer." So, I'm wondering why is it that after reaching say - oh, 4-5 cups - I find I cross a threshold and experience the opposite effect.
    I just get really sleepy, lethargic, and I have to fight myself to stay awake in my cubicle.
    I'm obviously drinking too much caffeine here (right?), but why can't I just keep drinking until the cows come home, getting more and more alert?
    I already figured out that I'm not just getting bored by the end of the day, because I've stopped myself at 1-2 cups and find that I'm wide awake vs. the 4-5 cups under the same conditions (ie. 8 hrs sleep, similar lunch, etc.).
    What's happening inside me and is there a universal caffeine threshold for people?

    • scicurious says:

      Hi Kat,

      I'm personally not sure why you would feel this way. Many people experience shakiness, nervousness, or some sweating when they have large amounts of caffeine, but sleepiness is a new one!

      • Kat says:

        Hmm...maybe I interpreted this wrong. Don't you always say correlation is not causation?
        So maybe it wasn't the coffee. Maybe I was just bored, thus sleepy, near the end of those days. Then, I drank coffee to stave off boredom/sleepiness w/o realizing I was doing it...but blamed the coffee anyway.
        Also, maybe the coffee is really weak at my work : /

        • Scicurious says:

          Yup, correlation not causation, but high doses of caffeine are known to causes increases in anxiety, as well as other things like shaky hands. Personally, I vote your coffee was weak. 🙂