Caffeine is classified as a stimulant. It activates the central nervous system and increases the brain’s production of dopamine, a neurochemical that affects the ability to focus and retain concentration. This stimulation can make a person feel invigorated and less susceptible to the effects of weariness.
Coffee is extremely beneficial to the creative process since it inhibits extraneous and superfluous insights, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. It encourages you to get down to work, stay focused on the project, and make day-to-day progress rather than thinking about new things you could be doing instead.
Want to improve your creativity? According to a recent news research, caffeine may not be the best option. Caffeine improves focus and problem solving, but according to a new study by a University of Arkansas researcher, it does not boost creativity.
“In Western cultures, caffeine is stereotypically associated with creative occupations and lifestyles, from writers and their coffee to programmers and their energy drinks, and there’s more than a kernel of truth to these stereotypes,” wrote Darya Zabelina, assistant professor of psychology and the study’s first author.
In Western cultures, caffeine is stereotypically associated with creative occupations and lifestyles, from writers and their coffee to programmers and their energy drinks, and there’s more than a kernel of truth to these stereotypes.Darya Zabelina
While the cognitive benefits of caffeine are widely recognized (increased alertness, higher vigilance, improved attention, and improved motor performance), the stimulant’s effect on creativity is less well understood, she claims.
In the paper, Zabelina distinguishes between “convergent” and “divergent” thinking. The former is characterized as looking for a certain solution to an issue, such as the “right” answer. The latter is distinguished by the creation of ideas in situations when a great number of appropriate, innovative, or fascinating responses would be appropriate. In the study, caffeine was demonstrated to improve convergent thinking while having no effect on divergent thinking.
In the trial, 80 volunteers were randomly assigned to receive either a 200mg caffeine pill (equal to one strong cup of coffee) or a placebo. They were then assessed on standard convergent and divergent thinking, working memory, and mood measures. Aside from the effects on creativity, caffeine had no effect on working memory, but test subjects who took it reported feeling less unhappy.
“The 200mg considerably improved problem solving but had no effect on creative thinking,” Zabelina explained. “It also didn’t make it worse, so keep drinking your coffee; it won’t impair these talents.”
Caffeine binds to a neurotransmitter called adenosine in the brain when you drink a cup of coffee. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that affects attention, sleep, and alertness. Consider adenosine to be a sandglass with a fixed time frame; once the final grain of sand has fallen, andesine thinks it is nighttime, impacting your capacity to focus and stay awake. This is where caffeine comes in: caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, inhibiting adenosine and keeping the cell operating while providing the required cognitive boost.
Coffee, like mindfulness meditation, helps you block out your “monkey brain,” which is continuously babbling in every direction, and instead listen to your “ox brain,” which thinks about one thing at a time—exactly what you need to get the work done. As one prolific novelist put it, “writing is the act of turning coffee into ink.”
To be more creative, set out time for your thoughts to roam, such as while commuting, housecleaning, or hiking… but don’t drink any coffee during or before. That’s when you get the insights you need that don’t arrive when you’re focused on your task.
Caffeine also has other advantages: it has been proved to improve mood, which could be handy if you’re about to embark on a brainstorming session or working on a creative project. However, there are a plethora of additional scientifically supported strategies to improve your creativity. Going for a walk in nature has been found in studies to “open up the free flow of ideas.” Even taking a nap has been proved to improve memory and concentrate more than caffeine.