Caffeine effects on ERPs and performance in an auditory Go/NoGo task
Objective: Previous research has shown that caffeine produces a general increase in arousal. The present study examined caffeine-inducedarousal effects on performance and auditory ERPs. We sought components showing amplitude changes without topography changes, aswould be expected of a pure arousal amplification of source activity.Methods: The effects of a single oral dose of caffeine (250 mg) were examined in a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled repeatedmeasurescross-over study. Subjects abstained from caffeine for 4 h before the testing sessions, which were conducted, in the afternoon,one week apart. A simple auditory Go/NoGo task was used, with a random mix of 75 tones at 1000 Hz and 75 at 1500 Hz. All tones were60 dB SPL, 50 ms duration (rise/fall time 5 ms), with SOA 1100 ms.Results: There was a reduction in RT, but no effects on omission or commission errors. The major ERP effects of caffeine were focalrather than global increases in P1, P2 and P3b amplitudes to Go stimuli, with no changes in latency. There were no effects on N1 orN2 to Go stimuli, and no effects on any components in response to NoGo stimuli.Conclusions: The results suggest that caffeine differentially improves aspects of the processing related to response production and taskperformance, contrary to the widespread amplification of ERP component amplitudes, and latency reductions, expected of an increasein general arousal.Significance: These results add auditory ERP data to the list of complex effects of caffeine on brain function and behaviour. They appearto rule out a simple arousal interpretation, and suggest directions for future research.