In some of the best news students have heard in years, new research shows that chewing gum can boost your exam grade. The finding, published in the journal Appetite, could give students a slight advantage regarding their academic performance.
Scientists from St. Lawrence University's Department of Psychology investigated the optimum time students needed to chew gum to improve their exam score. To this end, they administered a variety of tests to volunteers who were instructed to chew gum prior to or during testing, and compared these with a control group which didn't chew gum.
It turned out that students who chewed gum five minutes prior to testing scored better than volunteers who chewed gum throughout testing. The cognitive boost was short lived, however. Researchers noted cognitive abilities dropped back to normal levels after fifteen to twenty minutes.
How Does Chewing Make You Smarter?
Serge Onyper, who conducted the current study, hypothesized that chewing, or mastication, stimulated arousal. There has been other research on the relationship between chewing and cognition. For example, Richard Stevens and Richard J. Tunney, conducted an experiment which shows that mastication helps with the delivery of sugar to the brain thereby improving immediate episodic memory, working memory and processing speed. This could explain why the subjects in Onyper's experiment were able to improve their cognitive abilities - albeit for only a short period of time.
Moreover, other research has found a link between mastication, increased alertness and stress reduction. When you're alert, your senses become much sharper, and the act of chewing makes you feel good. Think about it, don't you perform better when you're happy and alert?
Why Don't People Do Well On Tests While They're Chewing Gum?
The reason why cognitive abilities don't improve while taking tests is because their attention is split between testing and chewing, at least Onyper thinks so. It seems as if the brain can focus only on a one task at a time, voluntary motor actions take concentration, which distracts the brain from performing complex cognitive duties.
What Do These Studies Mean To You?
Gum chewing has been proven to improve memory, processing speed, increase alertness and put people in a positive mood. So the next time you're getting ready for an exam or a job interview, chew on something.
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Onyper, S., Carr, T., Farrar, J., & Floyd, B. (2011). Cognitive advantages of chewing gum. Now you see them, now you don’t Appetite, 57 (2), 321-328 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.05.313
Stephens, R., & Tunney, R. (2004). Role of glucose in chewing gum-related facilitation of cognitive function Appetite, 43 (2), 211-213 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2004.07.006
Smith, A. Effects of chewing gum on cognitive function, mood and physiology in stressed and non-stressed volunteers. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Feb;13(1):7-16.
Sketchely-Kaye, K., Jenks, R., Miles, C., and Johnson, A. Chewing gum modifies state anxiety and alertness under conditions of social stress. Nutr Neurosci. 2011 Nov;14(6):237-242.
"Boost Your Exam Score With This Helpful Tip" copyright 2011 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy. All Rights Reserved.
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