Caffeine, fatigue, and cognition

Brain Cogn. 2003 Oct;53(1):82-94. doi: 10.1016/s0278-2626(03)00206-9.


Effects of caffeine and fatigue are discussed with special attention to adenosine-dopamine interactions. Effects of caffeine on human cognition are diverse. Behavioural measurements indicate a general improvement in the efficiency of information processing after caffeine, while the EEG data support the general belief that caffeine acts as a stimulant. Studies using ERP measures indicate that caffeine has an effect on attention, which is independent of specific stimulus characteristics. Behavioural effects on response related processes turned out to be mainly related to more peripheral motor processes. Recent insights in adenosine and dopamine physiology and functionality and their relationships with fatigue point to a possible modulation by caffeine of mechanisms involved in the regulation of behavioural energy expenditure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Electroencephalography
  • Fatigue / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Reaction Time / drug effects


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Caffeine
  • Adenosine
  • Dopamine