Habitual Coffee Drinkers May Present Conditioned Responses from Coffee-Cue

  • Mina FukudaEmail author


The present study was conducted to investigate whether the smell and sight of coffee (without tasting it) induced a conditioned response, and to compare the effect of the smell and sight of coffee in high- and low-consumption coffee drinkers. If classical conditioning caused the reduced reaction time effect, it was predicted that the degree of effect of caffeine-related stimuli would depend on the degree of experience of the pairing of conditioned stimulus (CS) and unconditioned stimulus (US). Sixty-six undergraduate students were randomly allocated to either a coffee or water presentation group and completed a simple reaction time task. Linear mixed modeling revealed that years of coffee consumption predicted reaction time when participants were presented coffee. The result coincided with the prediction that the greater the degree of experience of the pairing of CS and US, the greater the conditioned response would be. In conclusion, the present study showed that the smell and sight of coffee (without tasting it) induced a conditioned response and the direction was that of a caffeine-like effect. At least in behavioral effect, different types of caffeine CS uniformly induce a caffeine-like effect. Future studies should investigate the effect of the smell “or” sight of coffee to determine the relationship between CS type and direction of response.


Caffeine Classical conditioning Conditioned response Coffee 



 The author would like to thank Professor Kenjiro Aoyama of Doshisha University for his comments on this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Conflict of Interest

The author has no conflict of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

The Institutional Review Board of Doshisha University approved this study.


  1. Adan, A., Prat, G., Fabbri, M., & Sànchez-Turet, M. (2008). Early effects of caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee on subjective state and gender differences. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 32(7), 1698–1703. Scholar
  2. Andrews, S. E., Blumenthal, T. D., & Flaten, M. A. (1998). Effects of caffeine and caffeine-associated stimuli on the human startle eyeblink reflex. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 59(1), 39–44. Scholar
  3. Attwood, A., Terry, P., & Higgs, S. (2010). Conditioned effects of caffeine on performance in humans. Physiology & Behavior, 99(3), 286–293. Scholar
  4. Barmack, J. E. (1940). The time of administration and some effects of 2 grs. Of alkaloid caffeine. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 27(6), 690–698. Scholar
  5. Birak, K. S., Higgs, S., & Terry, P. (2011). Conditioned tolerance to the effects of alcohol on inhibitory control in humans. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 46(6), 686–693. Scholar
  6. Bonnet, M. H., Gomez, S., Wirth, O., & Arand, D. L. (1995). The use of caffeine versus prophylactic naps in sustained performance. Sleep, 18(2), 97–104. Scholar
  7. Clubley, M., Bye, C. E., Henson, T. A., Peck, A. W., & Riddington, C. J. (1979). Effects of caffeine and cyclizine alone and in combination on human performance, subjective effects and EEG activity. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 7(2), 157–163. Scholar
  8. Dafters, R., & Anderson, G. (1982). Conditioned tolerance to the tachycardia effect of ethanol in humans. Psychopharmacology, 78(4), 365–367. Scholar
  9. Dawkins, L., Shahzad, F. Z., Ahmed, S. S., & Edmonds, C. J. (2011). Expectation of having consumed caffeine can improve performance and mood. Appetite, 57(3), 597–600. Scholar
  10. Durlach, P. J., Edmunds, R., Howard, L., & Tipper, S. P. (2002). A rapid effect of caffeinated beverages on two choice reaction time tasks. Nutritional Neuroscience, 5(6), 433–442. Scholar
  11. Elliman, N. A., Ash, J., & Green, M. W. (2010). Pre-existent expectancy effects in the relationship between caffeine and performance. Appetite, 55(2), 355–358. Scholar
  12. Flaten, M. A., Aasli, O., & Blumenthal, T. D. (2003). Expectations and placebo responses to caffeine-associated stimuli. Psychopharmacology, 169(2), 198–204. Scholar
  13. Flaten, M. A., & Blumenthal, T. D. (1999). Caffeine-associated stimuli elicit conditioned responses: An experimental model of the placebo effect. Psychopharmacology, 145(1), 105–112. Scholar
  14. Fukuda, M., & Aoyama, K. (2017). Decaffeinated coffee induces a faster conditioned reaction time even when participants know that the drink does not contain caffeine. Learning and Motivation, 59, 11–18. Scholar
  15. Fukuda, M., Hata, T., Komatsu, S., & Aoyama, K. (2014). Effects of coffee cue presentation on desire for coffee and cognitive performance. Kiso Shinrigaku Kenkyu, 33, 28–34. Scholar
  16. Haskell, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Wesnes, K. A., & Scholey, A. B. (2005). Cognitive and mood improvements of caffeine in habitual consumers and habitual non-consumers of caffeine. Psychopharmacology, 179(4), 813–825. Scholar
  17. Hicks, R. A., Hicks, G. J., Reyes, J. R., & Cheers, Y. (1983). Daily caffeine use and the sleep of college students. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 21(1), 24–25. Scholar
  18. Johnson, L. C., Spinweber, G. L., & Gomez, S. Z. (1990). Benzodiazepines and caffeine: Effect on daytime sleepiness, performance, and mood. Psychopharmacology, 101(2), 160–167. Scholar
  19. Leathwood, P. D., & Pollet, P. (1982). Diet-induced mood changes in normal populations. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 17(2), 147–154. Scholar
  20. Lieberman, H. R., Tharion, W. J., Shukitt-Hale, B., Speckman, K. L., & Tulley, R. (2002). Effects of caffeine, sleep loss, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during US navy SEAL training. Psychopharmacology, 164(3), 250–261. Scholar
  21. Lieberman, H. R., Wurtman, R. J., Emde, G. G., Roberts, C., & Covielle, I. L. G. (1987). The effects of low doses of caffeine on human performance and mood. Psychopharmacology, 92(3), 308–312. Scholar
  22. Marczinski, C. A., & Fillmore, M. T. (2005). Compensating for alcohol-induced impairment of control: Effects on inhibition and activation of behavior. Psychopharmacology, 181(2), 337–346. Scholar
  23. McLellan, T. M., Caldwell, J. A., & Lieberman, H. R. (2016). A review of caffeine’s effects on cognitive, physical and occupational performance. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 294–312. Scholar
  24. Mikalsen, A., Bertelsen, B., & Flaten, M. (2001). Effects of caffeine, caffeine-associated stimuli, and caffeine-related information on physiological and psychological arousal. Psychopharmacology, 157(4), 373–380. Scholar
  25. Nehlig, A. (2010). Is caffeine a cognitive enhancer? Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 20, S85–S94. Scholar
  26. Newlin, D. B. (1989). Placebo responding in the same direction as alcohol in women. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 13(1), 36–39. Scholar
  27. Peeling, P., & Dawson, B. (2007). Influence of caffeine ingestion on perceived mood states, concentration, and arousal levels during a 75-min university lecture. Advances in Physiology Education, 31(4), 332–335. Scholar
  28. Quinlan, P. T., Lane, J., Moore, K. L., Aspen, J., Rycroft, J. A., & O’Brien, D. C. (2000). The acute physiological and mood effects of tea and coffee: The role of caffeine level. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 66(1), 19–28. Scholar
  29. Remington, B., Roberts, P., & Steven, G. (1997). The effect of drink familiarity on tolerance to alcohol. Addictive Behaviors, 22(1), 45–53. Scholar
  30. Roache, J.O., & Griffiths, R.R. (1987). Interactions of diazepam and caffeine: Behavioral and subjective dose effects in humans. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 26(4), 801–812. Scholar
  31. Rozin, P., Reff, D., Mark, M., & Schull, J. (1984). Conditioned opponent responses in human tolerance to caffeine. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 22(2), 117–120. Scholar
  32. Rusted, J. (1994). Caffeine and cognitive performance: Effects on mood or mental processing? Pharmacopsychoecologia, 7(2), 49–54.Google Scholar
  33. Shapiro, A. P., & Nathan, P. E. (1986). Human tolerance to alcohol: The role of Pavlovian conditioning processes. Psychopharmacology, 88(1), 90–95. Scholar
  34. Siegel, S. (1975). Evidence from rats that morphine tolerance is a learned response. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 89(5), 498–506. Scholar
  35. Smit, H. J., & Rogers, P. J. (2000). Effects of low doses of caffeine on cognitive performance, mood and thirst in low and higher caffeine consumers. Psychopharmacology, 152(2), 167–173. Scholar
  36. Smith, A. (2002). Effects of caffeine on human behavior. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 40(9), 1243–1255. Scholar
  37. Smith, A. P., Brockman, B., Flynn, R., Maben, A., & Thomas, M. (1993). Investigation of the effects of coffee on alertness and performance during the day and night. Neuropsychobiology, 27(4), 217–223. Scholar
  38. Smith, A. P., Kendrick, A. M., & Maben, A. L. (1992). Effects of breakfast and caffeine on performance and mood in the late morning and after lunch. Neuropsychobiology, 26(4), 198–204. Scholar
  39. Smith, A. P., Kendrick, A., Maben, A., & Salmon, J. (1994a). Effects of breakfast and caffeine on cognitive performance, mood and cardiovascular functioning. Appetite, 22(1), 39–55. Scholar
  40. Smith, A. P., Maben, A., & Brockman, P. (1994b). Effects of evening meals and caffeine on cognitive performance, mood and cardiovascular functioning. Appetite, 22(1), 57–65. Scholar
  41. Smith, A. P., Thomas, M., Perry, K., & Whitney, H. (1997). Caffeine and the common cold. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 11(4), 319–324. Scholar
  42. Staiger, P. K., & White, J. M. (1988). Conditioned alcohol-like and alcohol-opposite responses in humans. Psychopharmacology, 95(1), 87–91. Scholar
  43. Stewart-Williams, S., & Podd, J. (2004). The placebo effect: Dissolving the expectancy versus conditioning debate. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 324–340. Scholar
  44. Warburton, D. M. (1995). Effects of caffeine on cognition and mood without caffeine abstinence. Psychopharmacology, 119(1), 66–70. Scholar
  45. Zahn, T. P., & Rapoport, J. L. (1987). Autonomic nervous system effects of acute doses of caffeine in caffeine users and abstainers. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 5(1), 33–41. Scholar
  46. Zwyghuizen-Doorenbos, A., Roehrs, T. A., Lipschutz, L., Timms, V., & Roth, T. (1990). Effects of caffeine on alertness. Psychopharmacology, 100(1), 36–39. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesHealth Sciences University of HokkaidoIshikari-gunJapan

Personalised recommendations