Chewing gum helps you concentrate for longer

Chewing gum can help you stay focused for longer on tasks that require continuous monitoring.

This is the finding of new research by Kate Morgan and colleagues from Cardiff University published in the British Journal of Psychology last week. 

Previous research has shown that chewing gum can improve concentration in visual memory tasks. This study focussed on the potential benefits of chewing gum during an audio memory task.

Kate Morgan, author of the study explained:

“It’s been well established by previous research that chewing gum can benefit some areas of cognition.  In our study we focussed on an audio task that involved short-term memory recall to see if chewing gum would improve concentration; especially in the latter stages of the task.”

The study involved 38 participants being split in to two groups. Both groups completed a 30 minute audio task that involved listening to a list of numbers from 1-9 being read out in a random manner. Participants were scored on how accurately and quickly they were able to detect a sequence of odd-even-odd numbers, such as 7-2-1.  Participants also completed questionnaires on their mood both before and after the task.

The results showed that participants who chewed gum had quicker reaction times and more accurate results than the participants who didn’t chew gum. This was especially the case towards the latter parts of the task.

Kate explained: “Interestingly participants who didn’t chew gum performed slightly better at the beginning of the task but were overtaken by the end. This suggests that chewing gum helps us focus on tasks that require continuous monitoring over a longer amount of time.”

The full journal title is ‘Chewing gum moderates the vigilance decrement’
Other authors include Andrew J. Johnson, University of Bournemouth and Christopher Miles, University of Cardiff.

The study was discussed in this morning's Radio Four Today programme. Listen again here.

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