Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua


Caffeine is one of the most commonly used drugs in the western world today. Average intake of caffeine in the United States has been estimated at greater than 200 mg daily per person. Although plagued by inconsistencies, and methodological problems, research suggests that this level of caffeine ingestion may have significant effects on cardiovascular functioning, and behavioral processes such as attention, cognitive processing, memory, and task performance.

Although children consume significant quantities of caffeine, very little research has been done on the effects of caffeine in children. The limited findings suggest that caffeine consumption may affect the cognitive and behavioral skills necessary for success in school. Further research is needed to verify and extend the modest collection of studies with children.

This study evaluated the effects of caffeine on cardiovascular indices, attention, task performance, and memory retention. Eight children, between 6 and 8 years old, completed a series of computer tasks to assess caffeine effects on measures of learning and cognitive processing, using a single-subject, double-blind, alternating treatment design. Children were tested with 0 mg/kg, 2 mg/kg, and 4 mg/kg to determine if different levels of the drug had differential effects.

The results include: (a) statistically significant increases in systolic and diastolic blood pressures across conditions, (b) moderate decreases in heart rate, (c) the Attention, Performance, and Memory Tasks show biphasic effects, with increased performance levels at the 2 mg/kg level and lower performance levels at 0 mg/kg and 4 mg/kg.

The results of this study suggest that caffeine may have significant effects on the cardiovascular system and dose dependent effects on learning and cognitive performance. These results warrant further caffeine research with children, and suggest the need to monitor caffeine intake and restrict excessive consumption with children.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access