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Caffeine and its Effects on Attentional Variability in College Students

For most college students, caffeine is a staple of daily life (Godson, 2022).  Caffeine is a stimulant characterized by its ability to reduce fatigue and increase alertness (  Past research has shown caffeine to reduce latency in an attentional bias task, such that participants that drank caffeine respond more quickly than participants that drank a placebo (Lorist et al., 2003).  More recent research in the field of attentional bias has emphasized the role of attentional variability, which is the fluctuation of attentional processes overtime. We hypothesized that participants that drank coffee would exhibit reduced attentional variability as well as faster reaction times.  College students were randomly assigned to two groups: a caffeine group and a decaf (placebo) group.  They then participated in a traditional dot-probe task, by which their reaction time was measured across three trial types: uncued trials, cued trials, and distractor trials. Participants were also given two additional tasks that measure short-term memory and prospective memory.  Like previous literature, we found that participants who consumed caffeine responded faster across all trial types.  They also demonstrated reduced attentional variability compared to the control group, confirming our hypothesis.  

Lexus Mastromatteo '24
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