How does caffeine influence memory? Drug, experimental, and demographic factors

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2021 Dec:131:525-538. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.09.033. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Caffeine is a widely used nootropic drug, but its effects on memory in healthy participants have not been sufficiently evaluated. Here we review evidence of the effects of caffeine on different types of memory, and the associated drug, experimental, and demographical factors. There is limited evidence that caffeine affects performance in memory tasks beyond improved reaction times. For drug factors, a dose-response relationship may exist but findings are inconsistent. Moreover, there is evidence that the source of caffeine can modulate its effects on memory. For experimental factors, past studies often lacked a baseline control for diet and sleep and none discussed the possible reversal of withdrawal effect due to pre-experimental fasting. For demographic factors, caffeine may interact with sex and age, and the direction of the effect may depend on the dose, individual tolerance, and metabolism at baseline. Future studies should incorporate these considerations, as well as providing continued evidence on the effect of caffeine in visuospatial, prospective, and implicit memory measures.

Keywords: Caffeine; Caffeine-containing foodstuffs; Cognitive resources; Memory; Resource recovery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants* / pharmacology
  • Demography
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reaction Time


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Caffeine