Effect of caffeine on attention and alertness measured in a home-setting, using web-based cognition tests
Date Submitted: Sep 30, 2016
Open Peer Review Period: Sep 30, 2016 - Nov 25, 2016
Background: Background: There is an increasing interest among nutritional researchers to perform life style 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 since 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. Objective: Objective: The study is aimed to reproduce the effect of caffeine on attention and alertness using a web-based study environment of subjects at home performing different online cognition tests. Methods: Study design: The study is designed as a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind, cross-over study. Methods: Subjects were provided with coffee sachets (two with and two 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. Coffee was prepared from a sachet containing either regular coffee or decaf coffee. Each intervention was repeated once. Before and one hour after coffee consumption subjects performed online cognitive performance tests at home which measured alertness and attention, established by three computerized tests provided by Quantified Mind. Each test was performed for five minutes. Results: The recruitment via internet was fast and efficient. Within two weeks about 100 subjects applied of whom 70 were eligible. Of these, 53 completed all four test sessions, indicating that they were able to perform the do it yourself tests at home correctly. The Go-NoGo cognition test performed at home showed the same significant improvement in performance with caffeine as found in controlled studies in a metabolic ward. Conclusions: 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-NoGo test applied showed improved results after caffeine intake, similar as seen in clinical trials. This type of study thus is a fast, reliable, economical and easy way to demonstrate effectiveness of a supplement and is rapidly becoming a viable alternative for the classical RCT to evaluate life style and nutritional interventions. Clinical Trial: Registration of the study was done at ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT 02061982).