Senior Thesis
                                        Withdrawal Effects of Caffeine
                                                              on
                                                Mood and Memory

                                                Stephanie A. Brucato
                                                        Class of '99

Saint Anselm College


Key Words:  caffeine, mood, memory, California Verbal Learning Test, Profile of Mood States
Instruments:  California Verbal Learning Test and The Profile of Mood States

Abstract:  This study looked at the withdrawal effects of caffeine on mood and memory.  It was hypothesized that those who withdrew from caffeine would feel more depressed, nervous, and fatigued, than those who did not withdraw and therefore would not do as well on the memory task.
    Past Research has shown that those who are more depressed, do not do as well on cognitive tasks because their thought processes are interrupted with intrusive thoughts.  There has not been much research on memory while under withdrawal from caffeine, but through this study, we find some interesting and significant results.
    Twenty four college students participated in this study as subjects.  Twelve of the subjects were asked to abstain from caffeine twenty four hours prior to testing.  All subjects took the Profile of Mood States inventory.  This was later used to compare the moods of those who withdrew from caffeine to those who did not withdraw.  Next, they were individually administered the California Verbal Learning Test.  This test was instrumental in assessing the subjects cognitive abilities and was also used to compare the withdrawal and non-withdrawal groups.  The test consisted of sixteen items form a shopping list.  Subjects were asked to repeat the list a number of times.  They were scores on several different sub-scales of the test.  The sub-scales included how well they put the words into categories, if they said the list back in the order in which the words were presented, if they recognized the words in a list with other distracter words, how many of the words they remembered after a twenty minute interval, and how well they remembered the words after an interference list was presented.  Two correlational analyses and one 2-tailed independent groups t-test were conducted in analyzing the results.  Significance was found for the non-withdrawal group for vigor when correlated with semantic cluster.  There was also significance for the withdrawal group for friendliness when correlated with short delay recall.
    With more subjects we may have been able to see a greater difference between the groups on the POMS and CVLT.  Other flaws, as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.
 

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Questions or comments can be e-mailed to:  sbrucato@anselm.edu