Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Cognitive Neuroscience


Valerie Shafer


Peter Serrano

Subject Categories

Cognitive Neuroscience


Caffeine, Attention, Task Performance, Executive Function, Metabolism, Focus


Caffeine has been a heavily researched drug for decades given its prevalence in global consumption, as well as its large impacts on metabolic and executive function research alike. The present study aims to combine a behavioral study (Experiment 1) with a feasibility study (Experiment 2) to test the impacts of variable caffeine consumption on task performance. For both studies, participants filled out a questionnaire regarding caffeine use. Experiment 1 examined whether caffeine modulated attention in an online behavioral task in which participants were asked to identify a target (e.g., female “ahpa”). Participants were tested twice once after consuming 12 ounces of coffee/black tea 30 minutes before the task vs. and once with no consumption of a caffeinated beverage. Results revealed no effect of caffeine on target accuracy or RTs, but participant were faster in later blocks. In addition, lower target accuracy and faster RTs were observed in blocks where targets were randomized. Experiment 2 was a case study that included the behavioral task, and the addition of a plate-based assay to test caffeine concentrations in saliva at various time points. Saliva samples indicated a slower metabolism, or longer half-life, of caffeine in an individual who consumed low/moderate quantities of caffeine daily. The future plan is to examine performance on the behavioral task in relation to caffeine metabolism and consumption to test whether these factors modulate the effects of caffeine on behavioral attention.