The Daily Need

I’m dreaming of a large coffee

Photo: Flickr/Zach Inglis

Too much coffee under stress can do more than just make you jittery. It can make you hallucinate songs – namely, those by Bing Crosby.

A study released this week by researchers at Melbourne, Australia’s La Trobe University measured the effects of caffeine and stress on 92 participants. Under varying stress and caffeine levels, the participants listened to white noise on headphones. They were told that among the white noise, they might hear Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” and when they did, to press a button. Those who consumed higher amounts of caffeine reported hearing the song more often.

However, “White Christmas” was never played.

Caffeine, which is one of the most widely used drugs in the world, has already been proven to affect both the body and the mind by stimulating the nervous system. It also has addictive qualities. Among Americans, the average caffeine consumption is about 280 milligrams per day, the equivalent of about one or two cups of coffee. See a list of caffeine content in popular beverages.

A 2009 study reported that high caffeine users, or those who consumed more than 300 milligrams of caffeine per day, were three times more prone to hallucinate hearing another person’s voice when they weren’t there.

La Trobe’s Professor Simon Crowe said in a university press release that “caffeine was found to correlate with hallucination proneness. The combination of caffeine and stress affect the likelihood of an individual experiencing a psychosis-like symptom.”

Crowe also urges moderation when consuming caffeine: “It is apparent that the health risks of excessive caffeine use must be addressed and caution should be raised with regard to the exacerbating use of this stimulant.” No mention on the link between psychosis and hearing sleigh bells in the snow.

 
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Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=606980852 Sarah Reinbolt

    Now I know why I always think my phone is ringing when it clearly is not. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=894350152 John Abbott

    Interesting…I wonder why the ol’ Bingo? Why not Charlie Parker, Beatles, James Brown, Mozart or the Four Seasons. Perhaps more field testing is needed (smiles).

  • Bryan

    I do hear that song!  I have for years.  I also hear The Beatles songs, Wings, Miles Davis and Vivaldi and more so when I have my coffee breaks. = )

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_T24URKJGBLJQPBWCRPU37IIHLU Krab Louse

    Because that particular song is well known and would be one of the easiest for suggestive reasons.   For the same reason they didn’t use Afrika Bambaata or The Libertines as the music in the speakers.  No one would know they’re “supposed” to hear them. 

  • Jvhoffman

    It was suggested that “White Christmas” may be heard, so they heard it.  Perhaps caffeine makes one susceptible to influence from those perceived to be in authority, in this case the researchers.  That would explain the state of affairs in the U.S. today.

  • rm

    Just a couple of weeks ago was news that coffee significantly reduced the chances of prostate cancer in men. Coffee is good, and coffee is bad, it seems. I have tinnitis symptoms and I drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AISYZT2YKFB7I7MCP43XQP2DRE Caroline

    On reading the article it seems to me that they have proved that people are more likely to be suggestible when they have had too much caffeine. The article reads “They were told that among the white noise, they might hear Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” and when they did, to press a button. Those who consumed higher amounts of caffeine reported hearing the song more often.”  If they had left the people alone and then they had heard White Xmas then their hypotheses-high amounts of caffeine=auditory hallucinations would have been proved. Sorry guys, this is not good science.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AISYZT2YKFB7I7MCP43XQP2DRE Caroline

    On reading the article it seems to me that they have proved that people are more likely to be suggestible when they have had too much caffeine. The article reads “They were told that among the white noise, they might hear Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” and when they did, to press a button. Those who consumed higher amounts of caffeine reported hearing the song more often.”  If they had left the people alone and then they had heard White Xmas then their hypotheses-high amounts of caffeine=auditory hallucinations would have been proved. Sorry guys, this is not good science.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AISYZT2YKFB7I7MCP43XQP2DRE Caroline

    On reading the article it seems to me that they have proved that people are more likely to be suggestible when they have had too much caffeine. The article reads “They were told that among the white noise, they might hear Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” and when they did, to press a button. Those who consumed higher amounts of caffeine reported hearing the song more often.”  If they had left the people alone and then they had heard White Xmas then their hypotheses-high amounts of caffeine=auditory hallucinations would have been proved. Sorry guys, this is not good science.

  • kidstrek

    Dr Pepper, according to some psychologists, have just the right amount of caffeine to help ADHD people focus. This is much better than using drugs such as Ritalin that have so many more side effects.
    Also, it would be interesting to compare the same experiment with the level of susceptibility to suggestion for people who have had alcoholic beverages.
    Was there a group of people included in the experiment who had not had caffeine? Were the people examined prior to the experiment to see if they had tendencies toward hearing music without the white noise and without caffeine?

  • Talafriend

    Now I have White Christmas stuck in my head and haven’t even had my first coffee yet today!

  • kidstrek

    Grammatical correction: Dr Pepper, according to some psychologists, HAS…

  • Stevensonology

    White Christmas!?! I should be so lucky. Instead, I am stuck with the auditory hallucination of Herman’s Hermits singing ‘Dandy’.

  • Corspeak77

    I agree wholeheartedly!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Douglas-Ohm/100000124631247 Stephen Douglas Ohm

    This does seem like bad science, at least the way it is explained in the article. It’s already been proven that the human brain seeks out patterns and tends to find them even in random data, and it’s been shown that suggesting a pattern exists in random data makes it far more likely that others will see the same pattern. Seeing a pattern in static is not hallucinating, it’s just a side effect of the way we normally think and process information. All this study has proven is that someone under the influence of caffeine is even more likely to pick out a suggested pattern from static, which could mean that caffeine makes one more suggestible, or maybe caffeine stimulates the parts of the brain that seek patterns, or perhaps even the jitters caused by caffeine make it more likely for a person to accidentally press the button even when they don’t hear a song at all.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-26418-Green-Bay-City-Buzz-Examiner Marcel Kuemmet

    That would definitely explain why I like to get up early in the morning, drink lots of coffee, and do my composing (music) for the projects currently in the works.  I thought I wrote the best in the morning.  This makes sense to me as I have personally experienced it.

  • Cheryll

    Can they explain why, for years, I couldn’t get “I shot the sheriff” out of my mind?”  Another one was, “Cisco kid was a friend of mine.”  I had to put music on to counteract “hearing” those songs and even then, they sometimes came through anyway.  On an irritation continuum of 1-10, these two songs are at 11.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ellesmithfagan Elle Fagan

    My Dad used to get songs stuck in his head like that, especially in warm weather – they helped him pace himself thru a day – drove him wild though and you have my sympathy. It’s a sign of a creative mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ellesmithfagan Elle Fagan

    Anyone who mistakes the report here with a scientific study needs to go get a cup of coffee and wake up.  NOT valid . Just plain silly by scientific standards.  

    But most find that too much coffee worsens the very issues it hopes to fix,  if too much is consumed, delicious or not. The thing with the song is part of how humans behave in ALL behavioral studies – open to suggestion and impressed by the air of science to the point of over-agreeing with the test monitors.  If the suggestion of seeing the color green or hearing tubas had been given, that would have been the result.That those who drank coffee heard it more would only show that they were a bit more alert and “listening up ” for a thing they were TOLD they would hear…or worse MIGHT hear.