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Behav Neurosci. 2004 Jun;118(3):453-61.

Caffeine, priming, and tip of the tongue: evidence for plasticity in the phonological system.

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  • 1Cognitive Neuroscience Sector, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati, Via Beirut 2-4, 34014 Trieste, Italy.


A study was performed involving phonological priming and tip-of-the-tongue states (TOTs) in which participants took either 200 mg of caffeine or placebo. Results show a clear positive priming effect produced for the caffeine group when primed with phonologically related words. When primed with unrelated words, the caffeine subgroup produced a significant increase in the number of TOTs. This contrasting effect provides evidence that the positive priming of caffeine was not a result of caffeine's well-known alertness effects. For placebo, a significant negative effect occurred with the related-word priming condition. The results support the novel hypothesis that the blocking of A, adenosine receptors by caffeine induces an increased short-term plasticity effect within the phonological retrieval system.

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