For many, it is enough that the aromas of coffee freshly ground reach the nostrils for wanting to jump out of bed. University of Toronto researchers have discovered that it is not just the smell that has a physiological effect on the brain, as looking at something reminiscent of coffee can make the mind more alert and alert. attentive. Their study, published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, evokes a so-called “trigger” effect, that is when exposure to even subtle signalscan influence behavior. This phenomenon has been tested via coffee, one of the most popular drinks in the world whose physical effects are well known.
“We know much less about its psychological significance, in other words, how seeing reminders can affect how we think, “says Professor Sam Maglio, co-author of the study. “People are regularly exposed to clues related to coffee, or think about coffee, without actually drinking it.” The researchers wanted to know if it existed a link between coffee and excitement, so that if people were exposed to signals related to coffee, their physiological arousal would increase, as would happen if they had consumed it. In other words, explore how the simple act ofbe exposed to elements reminiscent of coffee may have an effect on specific areas of the brain.
An impact on certain cognitive processes
Certain areas of the brain can in fact be “activated” by triggering factors such as images, emotions, or caffeinated beverages. As part of their study, the researchers exposed people from different cultures to stimuli reminiscent of tea or coffee, like images, to encourage them to think about it. They discovered that participants exposed to coffee-related clues perceived time to pass more quickly and reflected in more concrete and precise terms. “People who experience physiological arousal because of the idea and not of the coffee itself see the world in a more precise and detailed way “, underlines Pr Sam Maglio.
He adds: “It has an impact on the way people process information, make judgments and make decisions. However, this effect was not as pronounced in participants from an oriental culture, probably because the association between coffee and physiological stimulation is not as strong in cultures less dominated by coffee consumption. . “In North America, we have this image of a manager going to a meeting with a triple espresso in his hands. There is a link between the caffeine intake and excitement which may not exist in other cultures, ”says the researcher.
Other work carried out at the University of Toronto has already addressed this triggering effect, that is to say other elements having a strong powerstimulation on the brain. Thus a study had revealed that the simple fact of looking at the logo of a famous fast-food sign could reduce the ability of a person to enjoy the pleasant experiences of life. Scientists plan to continue their research, and the next step will be to study the associations people have with different foods and drinks like energy drinks or red wine. These discoveries could in particular be used to better understand certain consumer behaviors.
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