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Interestingly, the number of caffeine consumers who are adolescents has been increasing the fastest.
A2A receptors are highly expressed in the nucleus accumbens and striatum (Rosin, Robeva, Woodard, Guyenet, & Linden, 1998).Adenosine has various modulatory effects in the brain, especially on the release of other neurotransmitters. So, when an antagonist such as caffeine is applied, the inhibition is stopped and brain activity increases (Fredholm et al., 1999).This process is fundamentally what makes caffeine a stimulant.Caffeine can also increase learning ability and memory consolidation and retention (Temple, 2009).While there are not many health risks associated with caffeine as it is normally consumed, extremely high doses can have deleterious effects, and persistent caffeine use has the ability to cause dependence and withdrawal (Fredholm et al., 1999).Introduction Caffeine is consumed by a large number of people.
In the United States, the average amount of caffeine consumed is 168 mg/person/day (Fredholm, Bättig, Holmén, Nehlig, & Zvartau, 1999), and the number of caffeine consumers has been steadily increasing (Frary, Johnson, & Wang, 2005).
The adolescent stage of development is conserved across species (Spear, 2004).
The limbic system controls motivation and emotion and matures earlier in adolescence (Gladwin, Figner, Crone, & Wiers, 2011).
Additionally, the prefrontal cortex that mediates decision-making is not yet fully developed during this time (Steinberg, 2005).
This leads to a sensitive period in brain development where emotional systems are strong but lack the capacity to be fully modulated by critical thinking coming from the prefrontal cortex.
While brain systems are still being formed in adolescence, changes in receptor density or neuronal firing produced by caffeine could have long-lasting effects on the functioning of these systems.