Chew Gum, Get Smart


Need to get smarter, right now? Pop a stick of gum in your mouth.

According to research from St. Lawrence University, you’ll get a boost in cognitive ability for a short time – just 15 to 20 minutes. After that, the benefits fade and gum-chewers perform the same as non-chewers.

While you might think the cognitive enhancement comes from a quick shot of glucose from sugar-containing gum, the dogged gum researchers found that wasn’t the case – sugar-free gum chewers performed as well as those chomping on gum that contained sugar. Instead, they attribute the short boost in brain power to “mastication-induced arousal.” They also suggest that the performance decline after the short boost is due to “sharing of resources by cognitive and masticatory processes.” So, as time progresses, thinking and chewing gum isn’t so easy.

So, the way to use gum is like a combat pilot uses an afterburner – when you need an immediate but short-lived boost!

  1. David Moloney says

    It would be interesting to know if the gum was distributed in the middle of a cognitive exercise, at the start or at the end. Although I’m not a scientist by any stretch, but I figure that an ‘interruption’ could help ‘wake people up’ mentally and get them to reset and refocus on the task at hand.

  2. Tumbleweed says

    Interesting research, for sure.

  3. Laurent Duval says

    The IgNobel is not so far. That’s how cows really rule the world

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