Scientists at the University of Basel have found that regular consumption of caffeine alters the gray matter of the brain, but the effect remains temporary. This is reported in an article published in the Cerebral Cortex magazine.
The study involved a group of 20 healthy people who drink coffee daily. The experimenters gave them caffeine tablets (or placebo) for two 10-day periods. At the end of each period, the gray matter volume of the subjects was assessed using a brain scan, and the quality of sleep was determined using an EEG.
Despite the fact that sleep in both groups was the same, the participants who received the placebo had higher brain gray matter volume than those who consumed caffeine. The difference was especially noticeable in the right medial temporal lobe, including the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory consolidation. Although caffeine appears to reduce gray matter volume, subjects' brain tissue recovered after just 10 days of abstinence from coffee.
Scientists note that the results of the work do not indicate harmful effects of coffee on the brain, but further research is needed to examine the potential changes in cognitive abilities in coffee drinkers.