Differential cognitive effects of energy drink ingredients: caffeine, taurine, and glucose

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Oct;102(4):569-77. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Jul 20.


Energy drinks containing caffeine, taurine, and glucose may improve mood and cognitive performance. However, there are no studies assessing the individual and interactive effects of these ingredients. We evaluated the effects of caffeine, taurine, and glucose alone and in combination on cognitive performance and mood in 24-hour caffeine-abstained habitual caffeine consumers. Using a randomized, double-blind, mixed design, 48 habitual caffeine consumers (18 male, 30 female) who were 24-hour caffeine deprived received one of four treatments (200 mg caffeine/0 mg taurine, 0 mg caffeine/2000 mg taurine, 200 mg caffeine/2000 mg taurine, 0 mg caffeine/0 mg taurine), on each of four separate days, separated by a 3-day wash-out period. Between-participants treatment was a glucose drink (50 g glucose, placebo). Salivary cortisol, mood and heart rate were measured. An attention task was administered 30-minutes post-treatment, followed by a working memory and reaction time task 60-minutes post-treatment. Caffeine enhanced executive control and working memory, and reduced simple and choice reaction time. Taurine increased choice reaction time but reduced reaction time in the working memory tasks. Glucose alone slowed choice reaction time. Glucose in combination with caffeine, enhanced object working memory and in combination with taurine, enhanced orienting attention. Limited glucose effects may reflect low task difficulty relative to subjects' cognitive ability. Caffeine reduced feelings of fatigue and increased tension and vigor. Taurine reversed the effects of caffeine on vigor and caffeine-withdrawal symptoms. No effects were found for salivary cortisol or heart rate. Caffeine, not taurine or glucose, is likely responsible for reported changes in cognitive performance following consumption of energy drinks, especially in caffeine-withdrawn habitual caffeine consumers.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Beverages*
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Cognition*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucose / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Placebos
  • Taurine / administration & dosage*


  • Placebos
  • Taurine
  • Caffeine
  • Glucose