The Effects of Brewed Coffee On the Task Performance of Rats

This is a thesis made by me and me groupmates in Experimental Psychology

October 16, 2016

 

THE EFFECTS OF BREWED COFFEE ON THE TASK PERFORMANCE OF RATS

Abordo, Princes Aira Mae F.
Cabalida, Lyndell V.
Capurihan, Cyril Gail T.
Magano, Mikaehla Marri S.

Abstract

Performing the task effectively is everybody’s goal in all the works assigned to them. It is important for a person to efficiently accomplish their job to avoid waste of time and effort. Coffee, in general, is known as the most abundantly consumed stimulant worldwide. However, The researchers aimed to know if Brewed coffee could also boost one’s task performance. The researcher wanted to determine whether Brewed Coffee has an effect in the subjects’ performance in terms of completing their task.  Having a baseline for the 21x10x8 classical maze using 10 Sprague Dawley rats, the researchers took five (5) 250g (0.250 kg) male Sprague Dawley rats, and placed the subjects in a maze and tracked the time consumed to accomplish the maze with and without the .15 mg of coffee intake. The researchers used the Two tailed Dependent T test to examine whether the coffee affects the subjects’ task performance. The study found out that the coffee significantly affects the task performance of the subjects. In conclusion, the researchers’ findings state that coffee intake helps the rats in terms of performance task and this will improve their brain activity and stimulate the central nervous system. As an implication of the study, brewed coffee could help individuals who needs to boost their performance in accomplishing their tasks and allows them to conserve time and effort for a much more efficient and effective way of accomplishing their jobs.

_________________________________________________________________

Keywords: Coffee, Rats, Task, Task Performance

Introduction

Coffee has always been a staple beverage for people all over the world. Years had passed and the role of coffee never changed. From breakfast to the moment people have to work overtime, coffee is usually taken to boost energy. It has been widely known as one of the major stimulants used and the most consumed beverage through the years and many people have praised its virtues while some people see it as a poisonous mind consuming drug. As time goes by, more and more people drink coffee and use it as a substitute food for breakfast. Coffee is a drink made from coffee beans, which are the roasted fruit of the Coffea Arabica bush. The general consensus on caffeine studies shows that it can enhance work output, For tired people who are doing work that doesn’t require lots of subtle or abstract thinking, coffee has been shown to help increase output and quality (Purdy, 2010). When people drink coffee, the brain sends a message to the pituitary gland, which releases a hormone that tells the adrenals to produce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. In other words, the same kind of stress response that the body uses when in an imminent physical danger is triggered (Hansen, 2014).

The Philippine Coffee Board (PCB) Inc. placed the yearly coffee consumption of Filipinos at an estimated 60,000 metric tons (MT) (Lagura, 2008). According to International Coffee Organization (2016), 70.3 million bags of 60 kilogram coffee were exported across the world in July 2016, an average of 2.0% annual growth rate in global coffee consumption since the year 2011, 41% of people in the 18-24 year old age demographic report that the drink at least one cup of coffee every day, people who are drinking coffee is rapidly increasing.

A study published in Pharmacology stated that caffeine significantly improves auditory vigilance and reaction time. After drinking coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, it travels into the brain. In the brain, caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine, and then the amount of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine actually increases, leading to enhanced firing of neurons. Also the intake of coffee, improved long-term memory when tested with object recognition (McCall, Millington, & Wurtman, 2012). Also Fitzgerald (2011) stated that drinking a cup of coffee—has been shown to enhance mental alertness and mood state and is also known to boost athletic performance. Dam (2015), also stated that drinking coffee will increase one’s health and coffee is one of the good healthy beverage choices.

Task Performance is the effectiveness with which job incumbents perform activities that contribute to the organization’s technical core. It is doing a job that is expected for a person to do (Borman & Motowildo, 2009). There are times that some people have difficulty in accomplishing the task assigned to them. Many factors may affect one’s performance, but it’s still important whether with fatigue or not, for a person to accomplish his task assignments regardless of the circumstances.

Task Performance has a critical role on the overall performance of an employee. Usually, this is the one being measured on evaluating the person’s knowledge and skill on work. Being unable to  accomplish one’s task the way it has to be might lead to termination or failure. According to Singh (2016), task performance is a generic term for how a person does on a given task. For instance task performance is sometimes measured as response time (how long a person takes to respond to a given, timed or untimed stimulus) or it could be measured as accuracy. It is a term for quantifying someone’s performance on a task.

Rats are suited to studies of learning and cognition because they are capable of learning a task. Their ability to learn allows us to look at the most basic principles behind learning and behaviour which can then be translated to our knowledge of human behaviour and learning. Rats are used within biomedical research second only to humans because they share 90% of genome with humans. Almost all disease-linked human genes we currently know of have equivalent genes within the rat genome, making them a suitable research tool. Rats has allowed us to build up an incredible wealth of knowledge about basic biology and complex physiological interactions (Phillips et al, 2013).

Mice are very useful for studying complex diseases as many of the genes responsible for these diseases are shared between mice and humans (Robinson, 2014). Rodents are often used as models in medical testing is that their genetic, biological and behavioral characteristics closely resemble those of humans, and many symptoms of human conditions can be replicated in mice and rats (Melina, 2010). The Sprague Dawley rat is an outbred multipurpose breed of albino rat used extensively in medical research. Its main advantage is its calmness and ease of handling. The typical life span is 2.5–3.5 years (McNay, 2006).

Hanson (2012) stated that Albino rats have unpigmented irises that do not block light well, so their retinas are constantly dazzled with light, leading to retinal degeneration. Hence, the visual acuity of albinos is much worse than normally pigmented rats, around 20/1200. An albino rat may live in a world of shifting, undefined patches of dark and light. According to Becker, et al (2016), Any chances for achieving personalized medicine for female rats in the near future seem remote, as the scientific basis upon which medical decisions are being based are still on data primarily derived from male rats.

When a rat had to decide where to go next, it sometimes pauses and looks back and forth. In able to provoke indecisiveness, Amemiya and Redish (2016), researchers who conduct the study of “Manipulating Decisiveness in Decision Making: Effects of Clonidine on Hippocampal Search Strategies” in the Journal of Neuroscience article, trained slightly food-deprived rats to walk toward a  “choice point” and decide whether to turn left or right in order to receive food at the end of the trail.

Rats have been used in experimental mazes since at least the early 20th century. Maze studies are used to study spatial learning and memory in rats. Maze studies helped uncover general principles about learning that can be applied to many species, including humans. Today, mazes are used to determine whether different treatments or conditions affect learning and memory in rats (Hanson, 2012).

Synthesis

Drinking coffee can enhance work output and quality, it also improves auditory vigilance and reaction time, improves long-term memory when tested with object recognition. Caffeine has been proposed as an ergogenic aid in physical performance. It is associated with a reproducible increase in endurance time in activities of moderate intensity and long duration (Purdy, 2010; Rob van Dam, 2015; A.L. McCall 1, W.R. Millington 2, R.J. Wurtman, 2012 & National Academies Press, 2006). According to Sonia Singh (2016), task performance is a generic term for how a person does on a given task. For instance, task performance is sometimes measured as response time (how long a person takes to respond to a given, timed or untimed stimulus) or it could be measured as accuracy. It is a term for quantifying someone’s performance on a task. Albino rats have retinal degeneration (due to unpigmented irises) that causes their retinas to be dazzled with light and have a visual acuity of 20/1200. In able to provoke indecisiveness, a rat pauses back and forth when making a tough choice about where to go next (Hanson, 2012; & Amemiya and Redish, 2016). In Melina (2010) and McNay’s (2006) studies, rodents, specifically albino rats, are often used as subjects in medical research for its characteristics  are  closely resemble  in human  beings, and  because  of its calmness and ease of handling. Hanson (2012), also stated that mazes are used to determine whether different treatments or conditions affect learning and memory in rats (Hanson, 2012). Rats are suited to studies of learning and cognition because they are capable of learning a task, it has allowed us to build up an incredible wealth of knowledge about basic biology and complex physiological interactions (Phillips et al, 2013).

The study will benefit the society, if proven to increase performance task, to have an idea on how they could enhance their task performance. If drinking coffee could increase the task performance of rats and we can let the society know the benefits of coffee to one’s performance and this could help them improve their skills and knowledge in their job. The study will also benefit the students and teachers to help them increase their energy when meeting the deadline. The researchers chose rats as subjects in order to avoid risks or inflict harm to humans who is allergic to coffee.

The researchers aimed to know the following questions:
(1) What is the mean scores of the subjects in the pretest and posttest?
(2) What is the difference between the means of pretest and posttest?

With these research questions, the researchers came up with the null hypothesis: There is no significant difference between the task performance of rats with and without coffee intake.

Methods

Research Design

The researchers used Within-Subject Design in which each subject took part in more than one condition of the experiment. (Myers & Hansen, 2006) The subjects took part on

the pretest and posttest to determine if there are changes between the task performance before and after the coffee intake.

Subjects

The researchers gathered five (15) Sprague Dawley Albino rats weighing 250g (0.250kg). According to Ferry (2014), Sprague Dawley rats are used mostly in biomedical research, they are albino rats that are not stressed by maze task. The researchers have chosen male rats due to female animals are often avoided by researchers for fear that their reproductive cycles and hormone fluctuations would confound the results of delicately calibrated experiments. (Rabin, 2014)

The researchers assigned different colors on the rats and gave each a designated name. Rat red is rat 1, rat blue is rat 2, rat green is rat 3, rat yellow is rat 4, and rat purple is rat 5.

Materials

Classic maze – A 21x10x8 inches wooden maze made with complicated passages and divisions used by the researchers to determine the task performances of rats.
Antiseptic spray – A cleaning material used by the researchers to remove the odor the rats left in the maze after every trial.
Syringe – A tube with a maximum measure of (5mg) used to feed the brewed coffee to the rats.
Rat food (Chicken pellets) – The food used by the researchers to feed the rats.
Brewed Coffee (Starbucks Espresso Roast) – A whole bean mixed with water to be fed to the rats in the post test. A recent study by Diffen, (2016) states that espresso is strong black coffee—i.e., no dairy added.
Cheese – The food used in posttest and pretest at the end of the maze for the rats to reach.
Weighing Scale – An instrument used to measure the weight of the subjects.
Stopwatch – A timer used by the researchers to record the time of every trial of the rats.

Above Average (23.33s-44.29s) = High Task Performance
Average (44.30s-50.32s) = Average Task Performance
Below Average (50.33-77.6s) = Low Task Performance Performance

*refer to Appendix E for the computation

Procedures

From day one, the researchers treated the subjects equally. The rats were equally fed each day for them to have equal results and have the same weight. They were placed on the same cage so that they will equally develop at the same time each day. The researchers conducted the experiment in a quiet room with room temperature and tested the rats twice a day for ten (10) days, first before the sun sets at 5:00pm for the pretest and second at 8:00pm for the post test. According to Dray (2015), rats are nocturnal creatures, which means they tend to sleep during the day and be awake at night. They usually wake up when the sun starts to go down. The researchers used antiseptic spray in the maze after every trial to eliminate odor and urine markings of the rats. According to Bohmbach (2016) Spraying disinfectant such as antiseptic spray and letting it sit for five (5) minutes will clean all the urine markings and remove any tracks of the rats. The researchers last fed the rats at 5 hours before the experiment. According to Maust (2010) rats can survive 14 days without food. The researchers conducted the experiment every evening for 2 weeks and recorded ten (10) trials of the time consumed by a different set of five (10) Sprague Dawley to set baseline of the 21x10x8 classic maze. Rats who didn’t reach the average baseline were considered rats with low task performance, and the rats who scored above the average baseline were considered high task performance. In the pretest, the researchers tested another five (5) rats weighing 250g (0.250 kg) and let each rat accomplish the task of finishing the maze one (1) time a day for ten days without any dose of brewed coffee. Pretest was then followed by two (2) hours break for the rats to regain their full energy and eliminate the chance of fatigue effect. The final step is the posttest, the researchers used the same subjects in the pretest for testing the posttest. The researchers used brewed coffee and placed it in a syringe. Each subject weighing 250g (0.250kg) was given 1 ml solution of coffee containing 1.25g of coffee having 0.5 mg of Caffeine. According to the United States Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service there is 40 mg of Caffeine in 100 grams Coffee. Caffeine’s action on a person depends on his or her body weight. Scientist had to scale down the amount giving the rats 2 milligrams of caffeine for every kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of body weight (Ornes, 2011). According to Quin (2015) A sip of coffee is enough for the coffee to have an effect to the body and 45 minutes is the time needed for maximum caffeine concentration to be reached in the blood, but levels reach half this concentration after just a few minutes. (Adan, 2008) After feeding the rats with brewed coffee, the researchers let them accomplish the task of finishing the maze now with the coffee intake for the post test.

Statistical Analysis

The Statistical Test used by the researchers is the T-Test: Difference between two means: Dependent samples in answering the research problem statements. The researchers first measured the baseline of 48.10 which was used to determine whether the rats have high or low task performance. If the mean of the task performance in seconds is less than the baseline, this means the the rat has high level of task performance. On the other hand, if the mean is greater than the baseline, this means that the rat has a low level of task performance. To test the hypothesis, a pretest was conducted to test the subjects’ task performance without the coffee intake, and then a posttest to the subjects with the treatment (brewed coffee). The mean of the task performance of rats in seconds during the pretest was computed and compared to the mean during the post test. The t test provided enough statistical evidence to conclude that there is a significant difference between the two means.

Results and Discussions

Research Problem #1
What are the mean scores of the rats in the pretest and posttest?

Table 1

RATS Mean
(Task Performance of Rats in seconds)
Level of Task Performance
Rat 1 49.12 Average
Rat 2 49.10 Average
Rat 3 55.93 Low
Rat 4 44.37 Average
Rat 5 49.59 Average
Overall mean 49.62 Average

Above Average (23.33s-44.29s) = High Task Performance
Average (44.30s-50.32s) = Average Task Performance
Below Average (
50.33-77.6s) = Low Task Performance Performance

Table 1 indicates the computed mean of 49.62 which shows the average time each subject accomplished the maze without coffee intake. The computed mean served as the value of the rats’ task performances during the pretest. As stated above, if the rats scored in the range of 50.33-77.6s seconds, this indicates that the rat has achieved low task performance, if it scores 23.33s-44.2s, this indicates that the rat achieved high task performance and if the subject scored in the range of 44.3s-50.32s seconds, it states that the subjects achieved average task performance.

The researchers used a baseline to determine whether the brewed coffee significantly affects the task performance of rats in terms of measuring if the rats achieved low, high or average task performance. According to Holzman & Sarason (2016), baseline are recordings of response frequencies in particular situation before any treatment or intervention has been made. Baseline is used for judging the effectiveness of behavior modification techniques. For the pretest, which is without the brewed coffee intaker, the researchers achived average task performance of rats. According to Myers & Hansen (2006), Pretest is used to assess and measure people’s level of behavior before the experimental manipulation. The researchers achieved the score of 49.62 which is falls in the average level of task performance of rats. The purpose of the pretest is to know the average score of the rats without using any intervention.

 

Table 2

RATS Mean
(Task Performance of Rats in seconds)
Level of Task Performance
Rat 1 40.34 High
Rat 2 39.60 High
Rat 3 39.27 High
Rat 4 41.56 High
Rat 5 39.62 High
Overall Mean 40.08 High

Above Average (23.33s-44.29s) = High Task Performance
Average (44.30s-50.32s) = Average Task Performance
Below Average (
50.33-77.6s) = Low Task Performance Performance

Table 2 shows the computed mean of 40.08 which shows the average time each subject accomplished the maze after coffee intake. The computed mean served as the value of the rats’ task performances during the post test. As stated above, if the rats scored in the range of 50.33-77.6s seconds, this indicates that the rat has achieved low task performance, if it scores 23.33s-44.2s, this indicates that the rat achieved high task performance and if the subject scored in the range of 44.3s-50.32s seconds, it states that the subjects achieved average task performance.

The data shows that after the brewed coffee intake, there is a significant change between the scores. The overall mean of 40.08 which is less than the pretest shows that brewed coffee intake affected the rats task performance. As you observe the table above, you can see that the score of every rat is above average, all ranging between 23.33s-44.2s seconds, that is why high task performance was achieved. In a subsequent study of Gulo (2012), there is an increased task performance in the rats after receiving coffee treatment. Many studies show caffeine reduces response times and error rates in simple reaction time tasks, choice reaction time, and visual vigilance (Hale, 2012).

Research Problem #2
What is the difference between the means of the pretest and posttest?
Table 3

  Mean SD Degree of Freedom Critical Value Test Value Interpretation
Pretest 49.62 4.121 4 2.77 4.34 Significant
Post test 40.08 0.918

Table 3 shows the mean differences between task performances of rats with and without coffee intake. The computed T-stat of 4.34 is greater than the critical two-tailed value of 2.77. The null hypothesis which states that there is no significant difference between the task performances of rats with and without the coffee intake was rejected. The researchers also achieved the pretest score of 49.62 and a post test of 40.08. This gives enough evidence to state that brewed coffee significantly affects the task performances of rats.

The results indicates that there is enough statistical evidence to conclude that drinking coffee will increase the task performance of rats. This goes the same for the human being, since the researchers used rats in the experiment as a substitute to humans to test if coffee significantly affects the task performance. A recent study shows that Coffee intake significantly improves dual task performance (Baniasadi, Nadji, Patterson & Parham, 2012) Many studies have confirmed that caffeine leads to enhanced cognitive performance involving various tasks (Brunye et al., 2010).

 

Conclusion and Recommendation

The subjects were able to accomplish their task of finishing the maze at an average mean value of 48.10 for the baseline, and 49.62 for the pretest and 40.08 for the post test with a standard deviation of 4.12 and 0.918 respectively. Considering the computed t-value of 4.34 which is above the critical value of 2.77, the results suggest that the mean difference is significant at 0.5 level of significance. This states that brewed coffee affects the task performances of the subjects.

The gathered data in the experiment also showed that the subjects’ task performances were more effective after the coffee intake due to the increase of the mean value from the pretest to the post test. This states that brewed coffee helps increase the task performance of the subjects.

The possible explanation for the outcome is that brewed coffee contains caffeine that helps increase alertness and helps improve auditory vigilance and reaction time. This explains the improved performance of the rats in the maze after coffee intake, which the researchers based from the baseline they have conducted.

Since brewed coffee significantly affects the task performance of rats, the study suggests that humans can be affected the same way. In this way, coffee intake will help people in terms of performance task and this will improve their brain activity and stimulate the central nervous system. It could help individuals who needs to boost their performance in accomplishing their tasks and allow them to conserve time and effort for a much more efficient and effective way of accomplishing their jobs.

In case a future researcher wanted to re-administer the experiment, the researchers highly recommend to use the most consumed and prefered type of coffee in their place. For example, the 3-in-1 coffee in the Philippines. Also, the subjects should always be handled with care, and should be chosen properly. Every rats have different personalities; some tends to bite when stressed and some tends to jump when trying to escape which is why gloves is highly recommended to use for precautions. If possible, conduct the experiment with human subjects, considering their health, so that external validity is to be achieved easier since the subjects are humans themselves.

 

References

 

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APPENDICES

 

Trials

 

Time Trials Time Trials Time
1 23.33 34 45.06 67 50.55
2 27.1 35 45.2 68 50.99
3 28.9 36 45.44 69 51.36
4 29.45 37 45.45 70 51.89
5 30.09 38 45.6 71 54.08
6 30.64 39 45.6 72 54.6
7 30.66 40 45.6 73 54.66
8 34.03 41 45.65 74 54.9
9 34.44 42 45.66 75 55.1
10 34.55 43 45.66 76 56.02
11 34.56 44 45.66 77 56.23
12 34.6 45 45.66 78 56.45
13 34.65 46 45.8 79 56.66
14 35.21 47 46.32 80 57.25
15 35.42 48 46.7 81 58.9
16 36.25 49 46.9 82 58.99
17 36.45 50 47.56 83 59.88
18 36.89 51 47.89 84 60.01
19 37.88 52 48.25 85 60.3
20 38.1 53 48.77 86 60.33
21 38.9 54 48.78 87 60.33
22 38.96 55 48.89 88 60.4
23 39.3 56 48.9 89 60.7
24 39.84 57 49.06 90 60.9
25 39.87 58 49.12 91 60.9
26 41.09 59 49.23 92 63.85
27 41.22 60 49.35 93 64.88
28 41.9 61 49.56 94 65.07
29 42.33 62 49.86 95 65.23
30 42.36 63 50.14 96 66.3
31 43.21 64 50.2 97 69.75
32 44.23 65 50.22 98 70.89
33 44.3 66 50.33 99 75.88
        100 77.6

APPENDIX E
Computation – Baseline (Raw Data)

Pretest (Raw Data)

  Pretest 1 Pretest 2 Pretest 3 Pretest 4 Pretest 5 Pretest 6 Pretest 7 Pretest 8 Pretest 9 Pretest 10 Mean Overall Mean
Rat 1

(Red)

46.7 61.89 47.87 50 50.23 49.01 42.07 51.9 44.9 46.58 49.115  
Rat 2

(Blue)

61.78 43.56 49.71 55.09 41.06 45.79 51.39 51.99 48.67 41.92 49.096  
Rat 3

(Green)

67.89 45.87 49.75 59.76 54.32 66.78 61.89 53.84 49.13 50.1 55.933  
Rat 4

(Yellow)

54.89 32.46 47.89 39.06 43.56 50.66 49.98 29.01 44.58 51.63 44.372  
Rat 5

(Purple)

59.87 51.67 48.2 43.47 52.11 40.98 43.58 50.01 54.98 50.99 49.586 49.620

 

Post test (Raw Data)

  Post test 1 Post test 2 Post test 3 Post test 4 Post test 5 Post test 6 Post test 7 Post test 8 Post test 9 Post test 10 MEAN Overall Mean
Rat 1

(Red)

50.01 36.5 30.8 42.67 41.56 29.6 38.65 47.65 41.13 44.87 40.344  
Rat 2

(Blue)

42.78 46.78 45.01 35 47.6 29.55 30.9 45.7 39.9 32.77 39.599  
Rat 3

(Green)

31.21 29.36 41.2 33.9 51.46 63.9 41.89 24.72 41.67 33.41 39.272  
Rat 4

(Yellow)

36.1 42.36 45.89 35.64 39.08 41.22 46.79 50.09 45.67 32.8 41.564  
Rat 5

(Purple)

40.33 39.06 41.07 32.9 37.68 42.97 40 41.08 42.33 38.76 39.618 40.08

T-Test: Difference between two means (Dependent)

t-Test: Paired Two Sample for Means    
  Variable 1 Variable 2
Mean 49.6204 40.0794
Variance 16.9815573 0.8424048
Hypothesized Mean Difference 0  
df 4  
t Stat 4.336709452  
P(T<=t) two-tail 0.012284682  
t Critical two-tail 2.776445105  

 

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