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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1994 Mar-Apr;33(3):407-15.

Caffeine effects on learning, performance, and anxiety in normal school-age children.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis 55455.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this investigation was to study the acute effects of caffeine on learning, performance, and anxiety in normal prepubertal children.

METHOD:

Twenty-one children were evaluated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover design. Subjects were studied during four sessions, 1 week apart, under the following conditions: baseline, placebo, 2.5 mg/kg caffeine, and 5.0 mg/kg caffeine. Subjects were randomized to order of placebo and the two dosages of caffeine. Dependent measures included tests of attention, manual dexterity, short-term memory, and processing speed. Anxiety rating scales were also administered. Saliva samples were analyzed for caffeine levels.

RESULTS:

Caffeine improved performance on two of four measures of the Test of Variables of Attention and on a test of manual dexterity in the dominant hand. There was a trend toward increased current level of self-reported anxiety after caffeine on a visual analogue measure of anxiety. Children reported feeling significantly less "sluggish" after caffeine ingestion than after placebo ingestion.

CONCLUSIONS:

In a small sample size, there was indication that caffeine enhanced performance on a test of attention and on a motor task. Children also reported feeling less "sluggish" but somewhat more anxious. Because caffeine is so widely available and frequently consumed by children, these results are important and need replication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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