Day 1: Does Coffee Make You Smarter?

This post is a part of a series, see previous post.

Like with most resolutions starting was the hardest part. It has been a little over a week since I declared my resolution to undertake a daily self-experiment (publicly mind you) on coffee. But public humiliation couldn’t stop me from procrastinating–change is hard. Of course each morning post-declaration I woke up with a different rationalization for not changing my behavior: “It’s still the holidays, I deserve a break.”; “I got up too late, I’ll do it tomorrow.”; “I’m twitching, I can’t wait, I need my coffee now!” But now, finally, the experiment is under way. I am using a tool developed by Stephen M. Kosslyn (a psychologist at Stanford) and his co-conspirators Yoni Donner and Nick Winter to facilitate this experiement. If you interested in self-experiments, quantified-self, or how to use data for self-improvement I suggest you check it out.

So today I started with the new morning routine and documented the process with some notes.

Day 1: Test-Before-Coffee

Start time: Mon, 6 Jan 2014 08:45:45 End time: Mon, 6 Jan 2014 09:02:42

Sporadic Notes: I commenced just 5 minutes after waking up. I am a groggy morning person so it will be interesting to see how this may affect my results. I expect to see improvement throughout the testing period on test-before-coffee days since it became evident that as I shook the sleepydust from my eyes the tests got easier. I’ll check back on this latter in the month. Several of the tests had rules that took me a few second to understand. I restarted these confused-trials to ensure an accurate measurement. On one of the tests (“Design Copy”) I took a practice trial to make sure I understood the rules. The practice trial is recorded on the results page so I assume it will be incorporated into analysis.

Learnings: In the morning I need to read directions twice. Use practice trial if unsure. Tapping the space bar as fast as you can is a good way to get your family out of bed.

Stay tuned for forthcoming notes and results.

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2 thoughts on “Day 1: Does Coffee Make You Smarter?

  1. This is a very interesting experiment you are conducting.

    Some reports suggest that the cognitive benefits people attribute after drinking coffee is not because caffeine enhances the mind but rather because drinking gets rid of the detriments from caffeine withdrawals. But then there are some reports that show no difference between those in withdrawal and non-consumers.

    Maybe it might be worth attempting yet another trial after you quit drinking coffee for a whole week ;).

    In either case, looking forward to your results!

  2. Quantified-Self, Experience Sampling, and Ecological Momentary Assessment Tech for Behavioral Science – A blog by Richie LeDonne

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