The Effect of Caffeine on Alertness

Cup of coffee with milk over coffee beans background, view from above
Photo Source: Roman Segaev

Ever wait until the last minute to study for an exam, stay up all night preparing, then throw back a can of soda or eat a chocolate bar on the way to class, hoping it will help you stay awake and focused? Ever wonder if the caffeine found in these products truly has an impact on alertness and performance? The Dawson Research Journal of Experimental Science (DrJes), a joint student and faculty publication of Dawson College's science program, features a cool science fair project [designed by Raphael Bouskila and Alexandra Lioubimova] exploring this very question.

Project Overview

It is commonly hypothesized that caffeine lowers reaction time. Using a double-blind study, where neither the experimenters nor the subjects involved in the experiment know whether they've ingested caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee (you could also use caffeinated/decaffeinated Coke®), students have participants visit and complete the exercises presented on a publicly available website to test reaction times. Be sure to visit the full post at DrJes. You'll find:

  • Background information on caffeine and how it interacts with the human body.
  • A list of materials needed to complete the experiment.
  • Methods (how to properly perform the double-blind study, how to administer reaction tests to participants, etc.).
  • Examples of experiment results including explanatory graphs and calculations.
  • Helpful links including a link to Allen's website designed to test participant reaction times.
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