The effects of caffeine ingestion on cortical areas: functional imaging study

Magn Reson Imaging. 2014 May;32(4):366-71. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2013.12.018. Epub 2014 Jan 6.


The effect of caffeine as a cognitive enhancer is well known; however, caffeine-induced changes in the cortical regions are still not very clear. Therefore, in this study, we conducted an investigation of the activation and deactivation with blood-oxygenation-level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and of metabolic activity change with positron emission tomography (PET) in the human brain. Fourteen healthy subjects performed a visuomotor task inducing attention with 3T MRI, and PET imaging was also carried out in seven subjects to determine the cerebral glucose metabolic changes of caffeine at rest. The result by fMRI showed increased BOLD activation in the left cerebellum, putamen, insula, thalamus and the right primary motor cortex, and decreased BOLD deactivation in the posterior medial and the left posterior lateral cortex. Also, the resting state PET data showed reduced metabolic activity in the putamen, caudate nucleus, insula, pallidum and posterior medial cortex. The common cortical regions between fMRI and PET, such as putamen, insula and posterior medial cortex, where significant changes occurred after caffeine ingestion, are well known to play an important role in cognitive function like attention. This result suggests that the effect of caffeine as a cognitive enhancer is derived by modulating the attentional areas.

Keywords: Attention; Caffeine; PET glucose metabolism; fMRI BOLD.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Caffeine / administration & dosage*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / administration & dosage
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / drug effects
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Nootropic Agents / administration & dosage


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Caffeine