Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Caffeine consumption slows down brain development

24.09.2013
Humans and other mammals show particularly intensive sleeping patterns during puberty. The brain also matures fastest in this period. But when pubescent rats are administered caffeine, the maturing processes in their brains are delayed. This is the result of a study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Children’s and young adults’ average caffeine consumption has increased by more than 70 per cent over the past 30 years, and an end to this rise is not in sight: the drinks industry is posting its fastest-growing sales in the segment of caffeine-laden energy drinks. Not everybody is pleased about this development. Some people are worried about possible health risks caused in young consumers by the pick-me-up.

Researchers led by Reto Huber of the University Children’s Hospital Zurich are now adding new arguments to the debate. In their recently published study conducted on rats (*), the conclusions call for caution: in pubescent rodents, caffeine intake equating to three to four cups of coffee per day in humans results in reduced deep sleep and a delayed brain development.

Peak level during puberty

Both in humans and in rats, the duration and intensity of deep sleep as well as the number of synapses or connections in the brain increase during childhood, reaching their highest level during puberty and dropping again in adult age. “The brain of children is extremely plastic due to the many connections,” says Huber. When the brain then begins to mature during puberty, a large number of these connections are lost. “This optimisation presumably occurs during deep sleep. Key synapses extend, others are reduced; this makes the network more efficient and the brain more powerful,” says Huber.

Timid instead of curious

Huber’s group of researchers administered moderate quantities of caffeine to 30-day-old rats over five days and measured the electrical current generated by their brains. The deep sleep periods, which are characterised by slow waves, were reduced from day 31 until day 42, i.e. well beyond the end of administering caffeine. Compared to the rats being given pure drinking water, the researchers found far more neural connections in the brains of the caffeine-drinking animals at the end of the study. The slower maturing process in the brain also had an impact on behaviour: rats normally become more curious with age, but the rats consuming caffeine remained timid and cautious.

The brain goes through a delicate maturing phase in puberty, during which many mental diseases can break out. And even if the rat brain differs clearly from that of humans, the many parallels in how the brains develop raise the question as to whether children’s and young adults’ caffeine intake really is harmless or whether it might be wiser to abstain from consuming the pick-me-up. “There is still need for research in this area,” says Huber.

(*) Nadja Olini, Salomé Kurth and Reto Huber (2013). The Effects of Caffeine on Sleep and Maturational Markers in the Rat. PLoS ONE 8: e72539. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072539

Contact
Dr Reto Huber
University Children’s Hospital Zurich
Steinwiesstrasse 75
CH-8032 Zurich
Phone: +41 44 266 81 60
E-mail: reto.huber@kispi.uzh.ch

Abteilung Kommunikation | idw
Further information:
http://www.snsf.ch

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>