Brain on Caffeine
Caffeine acts through cell surface receptors spread throughout the body causing most of its biological effects. The main effect of caffeine on the body is through blocking all types of adenosine receptors (University of Bristol) (Ribeiro, 2010). Adenosine are receptors in the brain that are meant to regulate brain activity to ensure we are not firing too many neurotransmitters at once (University of Bristol).
If the brain is moving too fast adenosine acts as a brake to neural activity and down regulates. Adenosine also tells the body when it is tired and time to rest. Caffeine suppresses the activation of adenosine, thus blocking the brains ability to communicate that the body is tired, and up-regulating brain activity (University of Bristol). That is why when caffeine enters the body we are able to stay awake for longer, think more actively, and increase alertness (Oestreich, 2013) (University of Bristol). Also why some people are able to handle coffee, while others are not.
A publication in The Journal of Alzheimer’s disease studied the reaction of caffeine and adenosine and concluded “targeting approaches that involve adenosine receptors will enhance the possibilities to correct brain dysfunctions, via the universally consumed substance that is caffeine” (Ribeiro, 2010).