Too much coffee can do a lot of things. It can make you live, it can also make you die. Now, we have evidence that caffeine can and will make you stupid, especially if you are a teen. Swiss scientists announced to the press the results of a study on lab mice concerning caffeine discovered that caffeine affects the brain's development and maturity during puberty. The scientists also discovered that too much caffeine affects how we sleep, but that is nothing new to any of us who drink the stuff.
The scientists at the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), a science research organization funded by the Swiss government, examines the impact of people everywhere eating and drink more caffeine than before, up to 70% more in the past three decades by their standards. These scientists undertook a study at University Children's Hospital Zurich under the direction of Dr. Reto Huber. In the study, they gave young lab mice the rodent equivalent of 3-4 cups of coffee per day in humans over a period of five days, and examined the results.
The Swiss scientists discovered something very interesting: The brain of the rats who took in the caffeine suffered a decline in intelligence, due to delays in the brain's development during the species' period of puberty. Rather than being more curious as they got older, they got more timid and cautious, and thus gained less intelligence through experience overall.
Key to this discovery was the lack of deep sleep the mice were having due to the caffeine intake. Deep sleep allows the brain to develop more efficiently than other means, creating and changing its connections over time. The lack of deep sleep is best marked by an increase of vivid dreams that a person remembers. Puberty is the time when these changes occur the most, before the brain matures completely. However, when the mice took in caffeine, they were having far less deep sleep than before, and that effect lasted up to a week after the five day trial period, presumably because the caffeine had not completely flushed out of their system.
The Swiss scientists findings were published in prestigious scientific journal PLOS ONE, under the title "The Effects of Caffeine on Sleep and Maturational Marks in the Rat," a few weeks ago. In any event, now may be a good time cut back on that coffee. Four cups of coffee seem to be a bit much anyway.