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      Effect of Caffeine on Attention and Alertness Measured in a Home-Setting, Using Web-Based Cognition Tests

      , PhD , 1 , , PhD 2 , , PhD 3 , , MSc 1 , , PhD 1

      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)

      JMIR Research Protocols

      JMIR Publications

      caffeine, at-home testing, cognition, EFSA claim

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          There is an increasing interest among nutritional researchers to perform lifestyle and nutritional intervention studies in a home setting instead of testing subjects in a clinical unit. The term used in other disciplines is ‘ecological validity’ stressing a realistic situation. This becomes more and more feasible because devices and self-tests that enable such studies are more commonly available. Here, we present such a study in which we reproduced the effect of caffeine on attention and alertness in an at-home setting.


          The study was aimed to reproduce the effect of caffeine on attention and alertness using a Web-based study environment of subjects, at home, performing different Web-based cognition tests.


          The study was designed as a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study. Subjects were provided with coffee sachets (2 with and 2 without caffeine). They were also provided with a written instruction of the test days. Healthy volunteers consumed a cup of coffee after an overnight fast. Each intervention was repeated once. Before and 1 hour after coffee consumption subjects performed Web-based cognitive performance tests at home, which measured alertness and attention, established by 3 computerized tests provided by QuantifiedMind. Each test was performed for 5 minutes.


          Web-based recruitment was fast and efficient. Within 2 weeks, 102 subjects applied, of whom 70 were eligible. Of the 66 subjects who started the study, 53 completed all 4 test sessions (80%), indicating that they were able to perform the do it yourself tests, at home, correctly. The Go-No Go cognition test performed at home showed the same significant improvement in reaction time with caffeine as found in controlled studies in a metabolic ward ( P=.02). For coding and N-back the second block was performed approximately 10% faster. No effect was seen on correctness.


          The study showed that the effects of caffeine consumption on a cognition test in an at-home setting revealed similar results as in a controlled setting. The Go-No Go test applied showed improved results after caffeine intake, similar as seen in clinical trials. This type of study is a fast, reliable, economical, and easy way to demonstrate effectiveness of a supplement and is rapidly becoming a viable alternative for the classical randomized control trial to evaluate life style and nutritional interventions.

          Trial Registration

          Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02061982; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02061982 (Archived by WebCite at https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02061982)

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          Most cited references 16

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          The ecological validity of neuropsychological tests: a review of the literature on everyday cognitive skills.

          Evaluating the ecological validity of neuropsychological tests has become an increasingly important topic over the past decade. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive review of the research on the ecological validity of neuropsychological tests, as it pertains to everyday cognitive skills. This review is presented in the context of several theoretical issues facing ecological validity research. Overall, the research suggests that many neuropsychological tests have a moderate level of ecological validity when predicting everyday cognitive functioning. The strongest relationships were noted when the outcome measure corresponded to the cognitive domain assessed by the neuropsychological tests. Several other factors that may moderate the degree of ecological validity established for neuropsychological tests are in need of further exploration. These factors include the effects of the population being tested, the approach utilized (verisimilitude vs. veridicality), the person completing the outcome measure (significant other vs. clinician), illness severity, and time from injury until evaluation. In addition, a standard measurement of outcome for each cognitive domain is greatly needed to allow for comparison across studies.
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            Crowdsourced Health Research Studies: An Important Emerging Complement to Clinical Trials in the Public Health Research Ecosystem

             Melanie Swan (2012)
            Background Crowdsourced health research studies are the nexus of three contemporary trends: 1) citizen science (non-professionally trained individuals conducting science-related activities); 2) crowdsourcing (use of web-based technologies to recruit project participants); and 3) medicine 2.0 / health 2.0 (active participation of individuals in their health care particularly using web 2.0 technologies). Crowdsourced health research studies have arisen as a natural extension of the activities of health social networks (online health interest communities), and can be researcher-organized or participant-organized. In the last few years, professional researchers have been crowdsourcing cohorts from health social networks for the conduct of traditional studies. Participants have also begun to organize their own research studies through health social networks and health collaboration communities created especially for the purpose of self-experimentation and the investigation of health-related concerns. Objective The objective of this analysis is to undertake a comprehensive narrative review of crowdsourced health research studies. This review will assess the status, impact, and prospects of crowdsourced health research studies. Methods Crowdsourced health research studies were identified through a search of literature published from 2000 to 2011 and informal interviews conducted 2008-2011. Keyword terms related to crowdsourcing were sought in Medline/PubMed. Papers that presented results from human health studies that included crowdsourced populations were selected for inclusion. Crowdsourced health research studies not published in the scientific literature were identified by attending industry conferences and events, interviewing attendees, and reviewing related websites. Results Participatory health is a growing area with individuals using health social networks, crowdsourced studies, smartphone health applications, and personal health records to achieve positive outcomes for a variety of health conditions. PatientsLikeMe and 23andMe are the leading operators of researcher-organized, crowdsourced health research studies. These operators have published findings in the areas of disease research, drug response, user experience in crowdsourced studies, and genetic association. Quantified Self, Genomera, and DIYgenomics are communities of participant-organized health research studies where individuals conduct self-experimentation and group studies. Crowdsourced health research studies have a diversity of intended outcomes and levels of scientific rigor. Conclusions Participatory health initiatives are becoming part of the public health ecosystem and their rapid growth is facilitated by Internet and social networking influences. Large-scale parameter-stratified cohorts have potential to facilitate a next-generation understanding of disease and drug response. Not only is the large size of crowdsourced cohorts an asset to medical discovery, too is the near-immediate speed at which medical findings might be tested and applied. Participatory health initiatives are expanding the scope of medicine from a traditional focus on disease cure to a personalized preventive approach. Crowdsourced health research studies are a promising complement and extension to traditional clinical trials as a model for the conduct of health research.
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              Cognitive and mood improvements of caffeine in habitual consumers and habitual non-consumers of caffeine.

              The cognitive and mood effects of caffeine are well documented. However, the majority of studies in this area involve caffeine-deprived, habitual caffeine users. It is therefore unclear whether any beneficial findings are due to the positive effects of caffeine or to the alleviation of caffeine withdrawal. The present placebo-controlled, double-blind, balanced crossover study investigated the acute cognitive and mood effects of caffeine in habitual users and habitual non-users of caffeine. Following overnight caffeine withdrawal, 24 habitual caffeine consumers (mean=217 mg/day) and 24 habitual non-consumers (20 mg/day) received a 150 ml drink containing either 75 or 150 mg of caffeine or a matching placebo, at intervals of > or =48 h. Cognitive and mood assessments were undertaken at baseline and 30 min post-drink. These included the Cognitive Drug Research computerised test battery, two serial subtraction tasks, a sentence verification task and subjective visual analogue mood scales. There were no baseline differences between the groups' mood or performance. Following caffeine, there were significant improvements in simple reaction time, digit vigilance reaction time, numeric working memory reaction time and sentence verification accuracy, irrespective of group. Self-rated mental fatigue was reduced and ratings of alertness were significantly improved by caffeine independent of group. There were also group effects for rapid visual information processing false alarms and spatial memory accuracy with habitual consumers outperforming non-consumers. There was a single significant interaction of group and treatment effects on jittery ratings. Separate analyses of each groups' responses to caffeine revealed overlapping but differential responses to caffeine. Caffeine tended to benefit consumers' mood more while improving performance more in the non-consumers. These results do not support a withdrawal alleviation model. Differences in the patterns of responses to caffeine by habitual consumers and habitual non-consumers may go some way to explaining why some individuals become caffeine consumers.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                September 2017
                07 September 2017
                : 6
                : 9
                1 TNO Department of Microbiology and Systems Biology Zeist Netherlands
                2 TNO Department of Risk Analysis for Products In Development Zeist Netherlands
                3 Stanford University Department of Computer Sciences Stanford, CA United States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Wilrike J Pasman wilrike.pasman@ 123456tno.nl
                ©Wilrike J Pasman, Ruud Boessen, Yoni Donner, Nard Clabbers, André Boorsma. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 07.09.2017.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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                caffeine, at-home testing, cognition, efsa claim


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