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Coffee and problem solving

If you need to be at the top of your problem-solving game then a recent study suggests that you should drink some coffee. Sadly, the same is not true if you want to be creative.

For the study, scientists selected 80 randomly selected volunteers who were given either a 200mg caffeine pill, equivalent to one strong cup of coffee, or a placebo. They were then tested on standard measures of convergent (problem solving) and divergent (the generation of ideas) thinking, working memory and mood.

Caffeine was shown to improve convergent thinking in the study, while consuming it had no significant impact on divergent thinking. So, while a cup of coffee might improve your focus and ability to get things done, it won’t help much in the way of coming up with new concepts. Coffee didn’t impair creative thinking, though, so researchers say if you enjoy caffeine while you work, you don’t need to stop – it won’t do you any harm.

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